PRESIDENT Aquino encouraged all Filipino athletes bound for the 2014 Asian Games to play with heart and passion the same way Gilas Pilipinas did in the Fiba World Cup.
In a speech read by Cabinet secretary Jose Rene Almendras on Friday night during the sendoff party for the Philippine delegation at the Philsports Arena, Aquino said Gilas Pilipinas is proof that Filipino athletes are world-class, while also encouraging the entire nation to give the same support bestowed to them during the world championship in Spain.
Gilas Pilipinas recently claimed its first win in the Fiba World Cup after 40 years by beating Senegal in overtime, 81-79.
The victory came in the wake of near-misses by the team against world powers Croatia, Greece, Argentina, and Puerto Rico.
As in past sendoff, Aquino failed to due to a pressing commitment.
“In the Fiba World Cup in Spain, they have showed us the value of heart and teamwork. The Filipino people have chosen to reward their dedication with a full-fledged support for the athletes. We are sending off the athletes as they embark on their journey to once again show the world the Filipino is truly world-class.” Aquino said.
The President also expressed confidence about the performance of the Filipino athletes in the Asiad as he believes the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) have given the delegation the proper preparation it needed to perform well in the Games.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee for the facilities and equipment provided to our athletes, to the assistance given to them, you have done your part in preparing them for this competition. With your help, our teams are able to fully able to be ready to compete with our athletes all over the world,” said Aquino.
“Even before the team departs for Korea, you already made our country proud,” he added.
PSC chairman Ritchie Garcia is also confident about performing well in the Asian Games.
“As the chef de mission of Team Philippines for this year’s Asian Games, I am confident that you will all do your best in this competition and you will showcase your athletic skills and abilities,” said Garcia.
“With your innate passion for your sport and that aspiration to win for flag and country, I am certain that in your every game, you will make the Filipinos very much proud, just like the recent winning of our very first Youth Olympic Games gold medalist, young archer Luis Gabriel Moreno,” said Garcia.
In Incheon, the nearly 150-man Philippine delegation from at least 20 sports is looking to at least match the three-gold medal haul of the country four years ago in Guangzhou, China.
During the same event, Moreno was given a cash incentive of P2.5 million by the PSC for his gold medal feat in the last Youth Olympic Games.