On the eve of a crucial home stand that could punch the Philippines’ ticket to the next round of the qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World, Cup, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas brought out of some of the most illustrious names in Philippine basketball to inspire the current generation of national players at the Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall.
The Philippines plays Kazakhstan on November 30 and Iran on December 3, both at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“When Filipino basketball fans speak of Olympic honor, of Olympic prestige, indeed of Olympic tradition, we cast our eyes to the distant past,” said SBP President Al Panlilio. “We are in the company of 10 great players who know the story of what made our basketball past great.”
Among the past Philippine Olympians present were Rafael Hechanova (1952 Helsinki); Antonio Genato (1952 Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne); Caloy Loyzaga (1952 Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne), who was represented by his eldest son Chito; Kurt Bachmann (1960 Rome), who was represented by his son Dicky; Edgardo Roque (1960 Rome); Arturo Valenzona (1964 Tokyo); Jimmy Mariano (1968 Rome); Marte Samson (1972 Munich); and Manny Paner (1972 Munich).
The Philippines competed in seven Summer Olympics.
“The objective today is not to measure the success of one team or one generation over the other, but to share stories and strands of commitment, patriotism and pride,” added Panlilio.
“We are on the eve of a war that may well spell whether the Philippines will advance to the next phase of the FIBA World Cup. Today’s reunion with the basketball legends reinforces our belief in the Gilas Pilipinas team to play at its best to achieve its goals, whatever the odds, whatever the cost.”
Added SBP Executive Director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios: “This is a golden opportunity for these Philippine basketball legends to share their experiences and to give inspirational messages to our current Gilas Pilpinas players. Not many people get this opportunity to be with greatness and we hope it rubs off on our players.”
“We thank the SBP for the honor of recognition and that they reached out to the past basketball players to offer words of advice to our national players,” said Robert Jaworksi.
“Malaking bagay na mga idol natin nag-pave ng way para sa atin,” said balik-Gilas player LA Tenorio.
“Make the most of this opportunity,” implored Genato to Gilas Pilipinas. “I believe you will win.”
“This is a wonderful send-off for our national team,” said Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao. “Meron tayong kasabihan na, ‘ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa pinaroroonan.’ To be in this room with all these basketball legends is a good opportunity to learn from our past to aspire for our future. We should link up with our past to link up with our present to go to our future.”