MVP not giving up on Gilas Pilipinas, sets eyes on 2023 and 2027 World Cup
There was a brief moment of silence before Manny V. Panglinan, telecommunications tycoon and chairman emeritus of the Smahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, breathed out a huge sigh.
“When we were in China [during the World Cup], yes,” said Pangilinan, when asked if the devastating and painful basketball setbacks he has witnessed since becoming the sport’s designated godfather in the country has floated thoughts of giving up.
“Right after the Italy game,” he added.
That was Gilas Pilipnas’ first game in the World Cup and the Filipinos were unprepared for what the Italians threw at them, That ended in a forgettable rout. And it only got worse from there.
But Pangilinan isn’t one to give up just yet—even as cries for him to drop basketball divert his funding and dedication to other sports where Filipinos have a chance to excel internationally have ramped up on social media.
“It’s the Filipinos’ favorite sport. How can we turn our back on that?” he said.
Pangilinan also has a strong emotional connection to basketball, having grown up in a basketball family.
“Especially my mom. She was a keen fan of San Beda. In fact [before going to] the games, she’d go to the school first to prepare sandwiches for the team with other moms. Ganun sya ka fanatic,” he said. “And she speaks Spanish so she could converse with [former San Beda great and Filipino hoop legend] Caloy Loyzaga.”
“Best friends sila eh,” Pangilinan added.
The PLDT/Smart chief is neck-deep in preparations to rebuild the Gilas Pilipinas program from the wreckage of the recent World Cup stint, hoping to reignite the people’s love affair with the national squad like in 2014, when the team became the darlings of the country—and of Filipinos all over the world.
Pangilinan said the first order of business would be to craft a program that would cover two World Cup cycles—2023, which the country will host, and 2027.
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