“SPORTS is our way of life and we would like to give back.”
Cebuana Lhuillier Sports head Jean Henri Lhuillier is confident athletes under his company’s fold will win gold medals in tennis, softball, bowling and basketball in the upcoming SEA Games in Singapore from June 5 to 16.
“I am very excited with all the possibilities that our softball and tennis players can achieve this year and next year,” Lhuillier said during a press conference at the Bonifacio Global City on Wednesday announcing his company’s long-term support for sports.
"Our national softball teams are a cinch for the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games and we’re looking to break into the Top 10 in the Men’s Softball Championships. Our tennis players, on the other hand, are also eyeing the doubles and team gold in SEAG, advance to Asia Group 1 of Davis Cup next year."
As part of its commitment, the Cebu-based company is also lending two players from their PBA D-League team Gems - Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa and Fil-Canadian Norbert Torres - to the SEA Games-bound men’s basketball team.
The company has adopted a two-pronged strategy by supporting national teams that have the potential to be at par with the world's best as well as a grassroots development program to tap and train fresh talent.
"Growing up, I have been fascinated with sports - its discipline and its benefits. But it is the realization that our country has a great selection of world-class athletes and a vast pool of potential talents that led me to discover, develop, and support our Filipino athletes," said Lhuillier, who is also the chairman of the board of the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) and president of the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (Asaphil).
For tennis, the Philippine Davis Cup team is fresh from a victory against Sri Lanka last April and will be playing against Chinese Taipei in July. The core of the team led by Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzales and Francis Casey Alcantara, will also be eyeing gold medals in the 2015 SEAG.
To help Filipino tennis players improve their world rankings, Cebuana Lhuillier Sports is supporting an ITF Futures tournament slated in October to be held in Manila. To help popularize tennis locally, Lhuillier has helped bring to the country the International Premiere Tennis League (IPTL) and is the team manager of the Serena Williams-led Philippine Mavericks. Filipino doubles specialist, Treat Huey is one of the cornerstones of the team.
The CEO and president said he has a personal connection with the sports his company has chosen to support.
“Tennis is something I played as a junior in the States. That is my passion. Almost everybody is a basketball fan. I played high school basketball also. In the 80s, I was already supporting basketball in the PBL so I just continued that path. Softball is a sport I played quite often. When I came back here I started playing slow-pitch softball a lot (and) saw the opportunity to help softball and met a lot of national players and that was one sport I could help," Lhuillier told SPIN.ph.
The company has been a major supporter of grassroots basketball and has supported players in the amateur ranks, including Cebuano players James Yap and Dondon Hontiveros who were at the press conference to lend their support for Lhuillier.