MANILA, Philippines—The “Booster in Chief” on Monday jokingly said he may have been the jinx in the national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas’ loss to Iran.
President Aquino made a surprise appearance at the Mall of Asia Arena Sunday night to join the cheering raucous crowd of close to 20,000 at the 27th Fiba Asia Championship game between the Philippines and Iran.
Playing without its injured center, Marcus Douthit, the Filipino team lost to the Iranians 85-71 in a game that had the Iranians start to pull away in the third quarter.
On Monday morning, with the game still fresh on his mind, Aquino told guests at the inauguration of the Japanese-owned Brother Industries Inc. factory in Tanauan City, Batangas, that he relished wearing many hats on top of being the Chief Executive.
On Sunday night’s game, he said he played the role of “Chief Booster.”
“I have learned in the past three years that perhaps the title ‘President’ is a bit misleading, because it is not enough to account for all my specific responsibilities,” Aquino said in a speech aired over government radio dzRB.
He’s also referred to as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and chair of the National Economic and Development Authority Board, the President added.
His unofficial titles include Salesman in Chief, as well as Head Inaugurator, Groundbreaker, Ribbon-cutter and Disaster Relief Worker, Aquino said.
Then he added with a chuckle: “And last night, I was encouraged to attend the basketball game, either as Chief Booster or Lucky Charm. Since we didn’t win, perhaps I am now being blamed for our loss.”
The President then praised the Gilas players for their second-place win: “Up to the last few seconds, they never gave up. They showed the respect… earned by their playing in previous games. They were not treated as an unworthy opponent.”
Aquino also pointed out the factors that put the Philippine team at a disadvantage. “We are not yet blessed with the height necessary to become a dominant power in the world of basketball.”
“We even lost our center due to an injury and it was really encouraging, at least on my part, to view our countrymen not giving in to a sense of, perhaps, defeat by just accepting the fact that, ‘you know, these guys are above seven feet tall and they are really kind of difficult to beat’,” the President said.
Given the right environment, “you will be surprised at what (the Filipino) will deliver,” he said.
On Saturday night, Gilas Pilipinas downed the powerhouse South Korea team, 86-79, and earned the right to play in the basketball world championship in Spain next year.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the administration joins other Filipinos in “congratulating Gilas Pilipinas for winning the silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships—and with it, a ticket to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
“In unison, the nation urged our team forward, and with consummate puso (heart), they laid everything on the line for flag and country. Gilas Pilipinas has shown the world that no one can outsize the heart of the Filipino,” he said.