MANILA, Philippines – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) led Filipino fans in mourning for Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on Sunday (Monday morning in Manila).
In a statement, SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and president Al Panlilio called Bryant, "one of basketball's titans, and one of its great ambassadors."
"The basketball world just lost one of its greatest sons," the organization said. "We send extend our deepest condolences to his family."
"Kobe was greatness personified," it added. "From the way he carried himself to the work he puts into his game – committedly doing it with passion and with style."
Pangilinan and Panlilio remembered Bryant's many visits to the Philippines, which made him one of the most beloved NBA players among Filipinos. Bryant was one of the many All-Stars to play in the Ultimate All-Star Weekend in 2011, during the NBA lockout.
"Thank you for showing us what it means to be a true competitor and a true sportsman."
1-Pacman Representative Mikee Romero, for his part, also joined the world in mourning Bryant who "is adored by millions of Filipinos, including the Batang Pier players and coaching staff, and the Filipino-American community in Los Angeles and all over the United States."
Romero also owns the NorthPort franchise in the PBA.
"Basketball lost a great hero, sportsman, and gentleman today," Romero said.
Also dying in the crash was Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
Bryant, 41, played 20 seasons for the Lakers.
Several Filipino athletes posted tributes to Bryant on Monday morning.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.