MORE than talent, heart and determination could play major factors in Gilas Pilipinas’ bid in the Fiba-World Cup in Spain where it will wage war in a group that includes basketball powers Argentina, Greece, and Croatia.
Former Olympian Jimmy Mariano said despite the herculean task awaiting the Nationals of winning at least two of their games in Group B to have a shot at advancing in the second round, he was quick to remind the team coached by Chot Reyes to fight for country with pride and dignity.
They Said It!
“Ibang klase ang pakiramdam na makalaro sa world (Fiba-World Cup) at alam ko iba rin ang mararamdaman ng mga (Gilas Pilipinas) players natin dahil nga world na iyan." - Former Olympian Jimmy Mariano
“Mabibigat ang makakalaban natin dun sa world kaya kailangang samahan natin ang paglalaro ng puso at determinasyon,” the lanky, 6-foot-4 Mariano shared to Spin.ph after learning of Gilas’ draw in the August 30 to September 14 showpiece.
“Anong malay natin makatatlong panalo pa tayo?” added the Filipino cage legend, who supported Gilas personally by watching the team at the Mall of Asia Arena during its Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship campaign last year.
One of the finest outside gunners the country ever produced, Mariano said playing against the world’s best has always been a challenge, but added that it is also in the tournament featuring the world’s best players where the Filipinos can show their wares.
“Ang mga players natin hasa naman yan sa paglalaro kasi in-born na sa atin ang galaw. Eh biruin mo, naturuan na at nag-aral pa kaya maganda ang galaw ng mga players natin,” said the many-time national player out of the University of the East.
Mariano was a member of two Philippines teams to the Olympics , the first in the 1968 edition in Mexico where the country finished 13th, and the second in the 1972 Games in Munich, Germany.
He also suited up in the world championship once when Puerto Rico hosted the meet in 1974.
Exactly 40 years after the experience, Mariano said the feeling remains indescribable to this day.
“Ibang klase ang pakiramdam na makalaro sa world (Fiba-World Cup) at alam ko iba rin ang mararamdaman ng mga (Gilas Pilipinas) players natin dahil nga world na iyan,” the 72-year-old Mariano said.
Completing the Group B composition are Puerto Rico and Senegal.