MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will support Gilas Pilipinas in its game against Italy at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Guangzhou, China, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.
"President Duterte will personally cheer for Gilas Pilipinas against the Italian team," DFA Asst. Secretary Meynardo Montealegre told reporters.
The President will visit China for the 5th time on Aug. 28 to Sep. 1 to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss "issues of mutual interest," Montealegre said.
Duterte will be accompanied by Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and officials of Guangzhou province, he added.
The President earlier said he believes the Philippines men’s national basketball team doesn’t stand a chance against the taller players of Italy but said they have a better shot at beating Angola, which they will go up against on Sep. 4.
“Wala, talo tayo, walang laban. Sa China na lang tayo magpusta,” Duterte said, speaking to a group of Filipino-Chinese businessmen at Malacañang. “We will lose sa Italy. Ang lalaki kaya ng mga gag*ng ‘yan.”
The Italy team could likely feature Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari and San Antonio Spurs swingman Marcio Belinelli, along with a roster that will field a pair of 6-foot-3 guards as their shortest players.
Vice President Leni Robredo earlier rallied behind Gilas and said she would cheer for them "until the end."
"Alam namin na ibubuhos niyo ang lahat ng kaya niyong gawin. Matalo man o manalo, nagpapasalamat tayo. Talagang magchi-cheer tayo hanggang sa katapusan."
(We know you will give it your all. Win or lose, we still thank you. We will cheer for you until the end.)
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