Tony Parker as the Philippines’ public enemy No. 1?
That could be an interesting scenario when the talismanic French playmaker leads the Les Bleus against host Gilas Pilipinas in the opener of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament on July 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Earlier this month, Parker, 33, the long-time point guard of 5-time NBA champion San Antonio, reiterated his commitment to play for France in the 6-team Manila leg of OQT, which offers a lone ticket to this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
Although their chances of helping the Philippines return to the world’s biggest sporting conclave since the 1972 Munich Games look dim following Parker’s change of heart, Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin urged local cage fans to welcome the touted French guard “the Filipino way.”
“We will welcome him to Manila and I hope our kababayans can welcome him the way Filipinos welcome an opposing player. And a player who will be in that situation will be very much dislike in this country,” said Baldwin following Gilas Pilipinas’ practice on Monday night at the Moro Lorenzo Gym in Quezon City.
“The day after, we can love Tony, all the wonderful thing he is and all that he has given to the game of basketball that he represents. But on that day, he could possibly be the Public Enemy #1. A hundred millions of fans denote him as public enemy number 1 and he will should have a relatively uncomfortable day,” added the Kiwi-American mentor.
The Filipinos will also take on the Tall Blacks in Group on July 6 and Baldwin feels they could pounce on the absence of Oklahoma City Thunder’s starting center Steven Adams.
“He hasn’t suited up for them yet,” Baldwin said of the 7-foot bruiser. “I personally don’t know Steven but from our standpoint, it changes the nature of the team quite significantly.
“It takes one of the better rim protectors in the world right now out of their lineup. And they don’t really have a high quality replacement for that. They will play the style of basketball that they’ve been playing in the last few years which is a lot of activity, a lot of movement, a lot of speed, and much more perimeter-oriented. It changes that we have to prepare for them,” concluded Baldwin. — By Jerome Lagunzad