12:56 AM August 14th, 2013

By: Beth Celis, August 14th, 2013 12:56 AM

GILAS Pilipinas may have failed to beat Iran in the title game of the 27th Fiba Asia Championship on Sunday night, but Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan said he will continue to support the team.

“This is only the beginning,” MVP said during a dinner celebration he hosted in honor of the team late that night at Oceana Restaurant in Pasay.

Hosting a basketball event in the magnitude of the Fiba World Cup is said to have titillated MVP. I guess no one will be surprised if he makes a solid move toward this direction in the near future.

Word has it that every Gilas player will receive a bonus of P1 million cash from MVP, who kidded the wives of the players during the dinner to make sure that the amount declared by their husbands is accurate.

* * *

No one from MVP’s group is entirely certain what the tycoon’s expectations were in the recent Fiba Asia tournament.

Based on the discussions during the birthday celebration of Mon Segismundo, Meralco’s governor in the PBA board, last Aug. 2—the tournament’s second day—I got the impression that the target was one of the three continental slots to the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.

At the table were MVP Sports Foundation president Al Panlilio, Maynilad president-CEO Ricky Vargas, Maynilad VP Pato Gregorio, Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, Meralco-Talk ‘N Text-Gilas media bureau head Virgil Villavicencio and PBA chair Robert Non.

Apparently, the focus of the MVP group then was divided between the ongoing Fiba Asia event and the fast-approaching PBA third conference, which incidentally starts today.

* * *

It wasn’t really the championship game between Iran and the Philippines but the semifinal game last Saturday between South Korea and the Philippines that got emotions zooming to fever pitch at Mall of Asia Arena. So much was at stake in that game.

When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd went into near-hysteria. So did MVP and the entire Gilas Pilipinas team.

“Not only MVP but all of us who were with him at ringside,” said Gregorio.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Vargas fell on his knees in thanksgiving, as the other high-powered men seated at ringside with MVP pulled out their hankies to wipe away tears. Men like Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella and top executives of MVP companies like Smart’s Doy Vea, PLDT’s Polly Nazareno, Metro Pacific Tollways’ Ramon Fernandez  and Panlilio.

“MVP for President!” the crowd shouted.

* * *

HOOPVINE: During the postgame interview, a tearful Ranidel de Ocampo could hardly speak. Groping for words, he thanked all Gilas supporters, especially MVP. “Let’s all pray that MVP lives a long and healthy life,” he said in a broken voice… Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao almost lost his voice as well from too much shouting and cheering during Sunday’s game against Iran… Japeth Aguilar credits our silver-medal finish to hard work and dedication. “Playing on homecourt also helped a lot,” he said… That’s also what Globalport owner Mikee Romero said just before the Korea-Japan game, as he mimicked the shooting stances of the Koreans, who he said could convert from any angle, probably even with their eyes closed. “But we have the homecourt advantage and that gives us a huge percentage of success,” according to the man who is in the list of Forbes’ 50 richest Filipinos this year.

Disclaimer: Comments do not represent the views of We reserve the right to exclude comments which are inconsistent with our editorial standards. FULL DISCLAIMER

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.