Duterte cheered; Parker jeered
CLENCHING a raised fist at center court, the crowd responded with its biggest roar last night—and that was even before tip-off between Gilas Pilipinas and France in the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The jam-packed crowd at Mall of Asia Arena reserved its loudest pregame cheers for President Duterte, chanting “Du-Ter-Te! Du-Ter-Te!” that got the Filipino cagers off to a rip-roaring start.
Appearing in khaki pants and a long-sleeved dark brown polo, Duterte clearly looked like the well-loved Chief Executive as fans trained their mobile phones on the former Davao City mayor. He did the ceremonial toss and was, to tell it straight, terrible at it.
And while the crowd gave Duterte all the love he could handle, Tony Parker, the San Antonio Spurs superstar in the NBA who will be trying to lead France to a 19th straight appearance in the Olympics, was showered with hate.
Parker was jeered every time he touched the ball, and the veteran internationalist got back at the Filipino crowd by doing what he does best: Conquer the opposition.
The 6-foot-2 point guard scored the first five points for the French before hitting seven of their last nine as the Philippines lost leads as large as 10 in the first period.
But when it was over, after Parker carried France past Gilas, Filipino fans outside of the venue showered him with the adulation he deserves, chanting “To-Ny! To-Ny!”