Plenty of variables certainly came to play for the Gilas Pilipinas in the gruelling FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, before it clinched a monumental second straight trip to the prestige Basketball World Cup.
Among those was coach Yeng Guiao’s resilience after losing two heartbreaking games in the 5th window. Then there was Andray Blatche’s willingness to let bygones be bygones, as he brushed off the initial snub to return to the line up and carry the entire country in his shoulders.
But for Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, the incredible feat wouldn’t have come to a fruition without the continued faith of the quiet, yet enigmatic man behind the scenes—the national team’s primary backer Manny V. Pangilinan.
“It was really MVP’s vision that brought Philippine basketball back to where it is now,” shared Panlilio. “He started with a clear vision and executed it to near perfection. He led the way and we followed”
Even after stepping down as the head of the SBP in 2016, Pangilinan continued his unwavering support for the the country’s basketball governing body and even bailed out the organization through hard times. Panlilio bared that the telecommunications mogul personally travelled abroad to talk to FIBA officials, when the Philippines got suspended by the federation due to bickering and politics.
“MVP gave it due importance because he felt the need to bring back glory to basketball and effectively unite the Philippines thru what people feel is the country’s national sport,” said Panlilio.
Since taking the program under his wing in 2009, MVP’s financial aid and influence was certainly a big factor in Gilas 2.0’s conquest of the silver medal during the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championship earned the country its first World Cup spot in 42 years. Even after the team wass marred by an ugly and unfortunate brawl in this year’s qualifying tournaments, Pangilinan kept his belief for our athletes and continued to lend his generosity, which again reaped amazing results.
“MVP planted the seeds with Smart as the main backer to jumpstart the program. In this 2019 World Cup qualifiers, MVP gave full support and priority even when things became shaky. His faith never wavered,” Panlilio bared.
“When I took over as SBP President, I knew how enormous the task would be to continue the legacy that he has started. The road to this year’s World Cup qualifiers was not at all easy. The narrative behind our success was a living proof to everyone that we Filipinos really thrive on adversity and we simply don’t give up.”
“We were challenged all throughout this campaign and yet, we still made it. Talagang pinakita natin ang tatag ng Pilipino. Laban hanggang dulo, para sa bayan,” Panlilio concluded.