Big J, other Olympians offer Gilas inspiring menu for Rio bid
A GROUP of former Filipino Olympians, led by basketball greats Robert Jaworski, Freddie Webb and Rafael “Paeng” Hechanova, Monday hosted lunch for several Gilas Pilipinas members to perk them up as they aim for a berth in the Rio de Janeiro Games next year.
Swimmer Akiko Thomson-Guevara and boxer Roehl Velasco, as well badminton player Weena Lim and gymnast Bea Lucero were with the “Big J,” Webb, Hechanova and fellow cage heroes Elias Tolentino and Tony Genato to exhort Gilas to give its best for the country.
Philippine basketball has been out of the Olympics since the 1972 Munich Games, and Thomson, in a light vein, emphasized this to Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Ryan Reyes, Kiefer Ravena, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Moala Tautuaa.
“Over 40 years, no pressure [on you guys],” Gilas team manager Butch Antonio quoted Thomson as saying as she addressed the players at the Manila Golf Club gathering. “But I hope you make it [to the 2016 Games].”
Local Olympic chief Jose “Peping” Cojuangco was also there, together with Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin, who said that it was a “humbling and inspiring” experience to be in front of such a select group of athletes.
Antonio said the other Gilas pool members had practices with their mother PBA ball clubs and excused themselves from the affair.
Gilas will play in one final wild-card tournament in July next year to shoot for one of three remaining main-draw berths.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.