MANILA, Philippines – Cage icon and former Sen. Robert Jaworski is hopeful Gilas Pilipinas can make a decent showing and earn some measure of respect as it plays some of the toughest teams in the world in the coming FIBA World Cup in Spain.
“They’ve found themselves in a real tough group. But basketball is a game of opportunity, and the important thing is for them to represent the country well and have their contribution to the sport,” said Jaworski, who graced a crucial PBA game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Monday.
“For me, it’s better to be in that group, and you have the opportunity to make surprises. It’s better than you’re in a weak group then you’re beaten there,” Jaworski also said.
Jaworski insisted that in the end it’s the playing attitude of the team that would all matter.
“You’ll find there an elbow as big as this (pointing to his knee). Eh baka dalawang untog lang stretcher ka na, that’s not the way to compete,” said “the Living Legend,” who in his heydays played in the Asian Games, the ABC (FIBA Asia) Championship, the Universiade, the world joust and the Olympics.
“We had competed with some of the best in the world, and I think we had our contribution to this great sport,” he said.
As for Gilas Pilipinas’ stint in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, Jaworski said the Nationals don’t need to look far for motivation.
“Di ba seventh tayo sa Southeast Asian Games? Ang sarap maging No. 1 sa Asia in this coming Asian Games (We’re seventh in the overall medal in the last Southeast Asian Games. It would be great to be No. 1 in the coming Asian Games),” said Jaworski.
He’d been to the Asiad as a player and later as a coach.
In 1990 in Beijing, Jaworski steered to a silver-medal finish the first all pro team that was formed to compete in an international meet.
No Phl team in any Asian competition had surpassed or matched that feat until Gilas Pilipinas finished second place to Iran in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.