FIBA: Francis Lopez honored to help Gilas win in front of home fans

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2022 12:39 PM | Updated as of Jul 06 2022 01:57 PM

Gilas Pilipinas player Francis Lopez (17) drives to the hoop during their match against India in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Pasay City on July 3, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Gilas Pilipinas player Francis Lopez (17) drives to the hoop during their match against India in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Pasay City on July 3, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines' victory against India in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers last week was special in more ways than one for the team's young forward, Francis Lopez. 

In beating India, 79-63, Gilas Pilipinas snapped a three-game slide which included a 60-106 defeat to New Zealand in another FIBA qualifier. It also gave them some much-needed momentum heading into next week's FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia.

For Lopez, the youngest member of the team at just 19 years old, what made the game all the more special was the support they got from the home crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.

"I think the Filipino fans are really great. It's a huge honor to be able to play in MOA Arena with the Philippines in front of you," said Lopez, who got to play in front of a home crowd for the first time as a member of the national team.

"I'm really happy that we got the win, and I really wanna thank the fans for coming out to support us tonight," he added.

Lopez continued to display his potential in the game, coming off the bench to score six points and grab four rebounds. He also had a steal and two blocks -- one of which was a sensational rejection of India's Arvind Krishnan in the second quarter.

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The former Ateneo Blue Eaglet was pleased with their performance on both ends of the floor, especially after the big loss to New Zealand where they could not execute the way they wanted to.

"I think we did a great job to execute all the plays that we had to do. I'm just really happy that we got the win after the losses against Korea and New Zealand. Just a good bounce back for us. We're also ready for the FIBA Asia Cup as well," he said.

"The job's not finished for us," added Lopez. "We still have games, we still got upcoming games coming up. We just really have to prepare for tougher teams."

Gilas will play in the FIBA Asia Cup starting on July 12. They are grouped with New Zealand, India, and Lebanon in pool play.