Catriona Gray, Gilas legends named ambassadors for Fiba World Cup
MANILA, Philippines — Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and the members of the Gilas Pilipinas 2013-14 will serve as local ambassadors for the country’s historic hosting of the Fiba World Cup 2023.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio and officials on Thursday introduced Gray and former national team mainstays LA Tenorio, Jeff Chan, Larry Fonacier, and Gary David as local ambassadors during the “One Year To Go” countdown celebration leading up to the World Cup.
Jimmy Alapag, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel De Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Paul Lee, Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo, and Gabe Norwood, who played in the Fiba World Cup 2014 in Spain, are also part of the group, which embodies Fiba’s values and principles upholding responsible, progressive, and team-work centered practices inside and outside the court.
Gray is honored to extend her platform as a beauty queen and youth ambassador to the world and of basketball.
“I think it’s really the pride that is overflowing from our kababayans (countrymen) when we see each other excel, and what more so in the state of sports and in basketball. It reminds me of the feeling of support that I had when I represented the country on the international stage,” said Gray at the media conference.
“It gives me so much pride and joy. I look forward to warmly welcoming the world’s eyes and our visitors to the Philippines. I know we will have a celebration like no other,” she added.
Tenorio and Chan were delighted that the SBP still opted to keep their special group involved in the historic hosting of the World Cup 2023, almost a decade since their silver medal finish in the 2013 Asian Qualifiers with a dramatic win over South Korea that also booked them a ticket to the world stage for the first time in 40 years.
“Now, it’s our time to give back. It’s time for us to share also. It’s an opportunity for us to share our experience when we were there, battling for our country,” Tenorio said. “There’s a reason why you guys chose us as ambassadors for this event a year from now. We’re really looking forward and we’re very excited. Before we were playing. Now, we’re here to support and to be there for our team next year.“
Chan agreed with his Barangay Ginebra teammate, encouraging Filipino fans to throw their all-out support for the country’s hosting.
“I’m hoping that next year, all the Filipinos will become one and give our support to our players. We want to share our experience with the players and hopefully, we can boost their morale so they will give their best and play with “puso,” said the former national team shooting guard in Filipino.
The SBP will also announce the next phase of ticket sales, including special packages, soon. Panlilio also invited the fans to attend the “One Year To Go” Countdown Clock Launch on Saturday at SM Mall of Asia Music Hall where a drone and fireworks display show will also be held.
“There’s a lot of activities that are happening. On Saturday is the official one-year countdown, we will unveil the Tissot clock, with four high-level executives of FIBA coming in. We are hoping that they’ll be attending that event on Saturday, and simultaneously, other countries will also be launching a countdown for next year,” he said. “The next big event will be the draw that will happen in April. By the end of February, we will know the 32 countries that will be in the World Cup. So we’re waiting for the other 30 countries to join us.”