Senators cheer Gilas win vs ‘bully’ China | Inquirer Sports

Senators cheer Gilas win vs ‘bully’ China

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:40 AM September 04, 2023

Senators watching the Gilas Pilipinas game against China

Senators watching the Gilas Pilipinas game against China. –MARLO CUETO/

Gilas Pilipinas may have failed to advance in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup, but senators said the Philippines’ 21-point drubbing of China on Saturday night was its “most important” win in the international tournament.

Wearing T-shirts printed with the words “West PH Sea,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and five of his colleagues joined thousands of Filipinos cheering for the men’s national basketball team, depicting the political undertone of the Fiba match between the two Asian archrivals.


“This was the most important game of all! For our pride and for our motherland, the Philippines!” Zubiri told the Inquirer.


It was the “sweetest” victory of the Philippines in the world basketball tournament as it came amid China’s hostile actions in the West Philippine Sea, according to the Senate leader.

“We showed the bully [from] the north that we [will not allow] to be bullied in our own home and that we rallied together as a nation to pray and cheer for our team Gilas,” he added.

‘Patriotic spirit’

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, a former member of the national youth basketball team, said the Filipino crowd inside Araneta Coliseum was “super extraordinary” and “exceptional.”

“And just like in the arbitrary ruling, we had a commanding and convincing victory against China,” said Villanueva, referring to the Philippines’ landmark 2016 arbitral court victory against China.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, said the game with China was definitely “not an ordinary game.”

“We needed this win. Full credit to Gilas coaches and players for preparing well,” Angara said.


Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said his colleagues decided to wear the T-shirts which Villanueva provided, to “awaken the patriotic spirit of our Gilas Pilipinas and motivate them.”

Dela Rosa—who previously supported former President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to set aside the arbitral ruling in exchange for financial aid from China—said the victory was “symbolic for us Filipinos in light of the recent developments in the West Philippine Sea.”

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