TWO days before Gilas Pilipinas goes to war in the 27th Fiba-Asia men’s championship, Philippine basketball icon Robert Jaworski, Sr. showed up at the national team’s practice on Monday night to tell them that they’re in a “great position to win the Asian title” on home soil.
Dressed in a gray jacket and flashing a big smile, basketball’s 'Living Legend said he has been following Gilas in the news of late and is convinced they’ve got what it takes to reclaim the country’s long lost glory in Asian basketball.
Jaworski was a star in the last all-Filipino national team to win the Asian championship in 1973, which was also the last time the Philippines hosted the biennial event.
“I’ve been following what the group is doing. I tell you that I believe you (Gilas team) have a great opportunity to put yourselves together and I could see a light of hope in winning the championship,” Jaworski told the Gilas national squad at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus.
The 67-year-old Jaworski said given the strong opposition in the Fiba-Asia showpiece, Gilas needs to maintain the team spirit, explaining that this is a great opportunity as well to leave a lasting legacy in Philippine basketball.
“This is a great opportunity to show the world that we’re a great people who can compete well. Just do your best, never say die, because it is possible (to win the Fiba-Asia cage title),” said the former Philippine senator, who was responsible for infusing the never-say-die spirit to Barangay Ginebra that has endeared the club to the masses.
“When we build that camaraderie and animo, then we can look forward to playing in the Olympics again because it’s been a long time. Just believe in yourselves, enjoy the game and get rid of that pressure,” he added.