MANILA – Members of the Gilas Pilipinas pool are moving on from the controversy over the cancelled “Last Home Stand” games with NBA players and focusing instead on the task at hand.
The players left Manila early Friday morning for Miami, Florida, as part of the last phase of their training for the FIBA Worlds.
They were supposed to have 2 exhibition games with some of NBA’s best stars last Tuesday and Wednesday, but the games were cancelled at the last minute due to NBA’s restrictions, and this drew negative reactions from local fans who bought tickets ranging from P750 to P23,000 each.
LA Tenorio said they had no control over what happened.
“Kami naman, wala namang kaming say sa nangyari, we don't have control doon sa pangyayari,” the Ginebra San Miguel point guard said before joining his team mates at the airport.
Gilas big man JuneMar Fajardo said he hopes fans will forgive the organizers, particularly the group of businessman Manny Pangilinan, for the fiasco.
Fajardo said the sports patron merely wanted to help Gilas prepare for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“Sana naman pagpasensyahan na lang nila...ang MVP group ginagawa naman nila lahat para mabigyan ng game ang [Gilas] Pilipinas, pero nagkataong ganon. ‘Di naman inaasahan yung ganung pangyayari,” he said.
Paul Lee, who is expected to make it to Gilas Pilipinas’ final line-up for the FIBA joust, said it would be better for them to forget what happened as they go through a rigid training camp, which will involve tune-up games in Miami, followed by games in several countries in Europe.
His Gilas teammate Gabe Norwood agreed.
“Siguro, kalimutan na lang natin yung nangyari na yun. hindi maganda ang nangyari, kelangan nating kalimutan na lang para yung isyu mawala na lang,” said Lee.
“It's kind of out of my mind, we have a bigger task and that's what we're trying to focus on,” Norwood said.
But Tenorio said the fiasco has not affected the country’s support for the national basketball team. He also assured that Gilas will do its best in the FIBA Worlds and the Asian Games, no matter what.
“The good thing about it is yung buong Pilipinas is behind us… nandito pa rin naman kami. We’ll still fight and play in the World Cup para sa mga Pilipino.”
The Gilas pool will meet their newest member, naturalized player Andray Blatche, in Miami.
Coach Chot Reyes shared he will make an effort to invite Fil-Am Coach Erik Spoelstra to drop by some of their practices and add some of his wisdom and knowledge to the team's preparations. -- With a report from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News