Pangilinan hands out bonuses to Gilas players
CHANGSHA CITY, China—The hard-fighting Gilas Pilipinas Nationals are wearing bigger smiles now.
Not only because they made it to the Final Four of the Fiba Asia Championship on Thursday night, but also because Manny V. Pangilinan, the country’s basketball godfather, gave them something else.
“We came to their dugout, congratulated them (for making the semifinals) and gave them bonuses,” Pangilinan, walking with the help of a cane because of a right knee injury sustained in a badminton game, said in Filipino.
“We also thought that they deserved something for the Iran game,” said Pangilinan, who saw that scintillating 87-73 victory back home. “And also for their victory tonight (against the Lebanese).”
Pangilinan’s arrival also gave the Nationals a shot of energy, something which they need badly as they battle Japan at 10 p.m. on Friday for a place in the gold medal match at Changsha Social Work College gym here.
And while the telecommunications tycoon’s presence alone does give the team that boost, Pangilinan himself is also nervous.
“Yes, (we’re in the medal rounds), on one hand, lalong nakaka-nerbyos,” he said. “On the other hand, tuwang-tuwa kami, tayong lahat, ang buong bansa.”
Knowing that the coaching staff led by Tab Baldwin and the players are now in a zone after winning a sixth straight game, Pangilinan said that there’s no use talking to them and giving them his technical output.
“Not anymore,” he said when asked if he will talk to the team again before the game against the Japanese. “You can see that they all have a rhythm now and we don’t want to disrupt that.”
Pangilinan, though, may be seeing the boys after the game, to hand out bonuses again.
The players would love that, and the country would, too, for it would mean playing for that lone Olympic slot staked in this event on Saturday.
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