GILAS Pilipinas has a new backer—and the mission remains as intense.
After missing the chance to return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this year, the national men’s basketball squad embarked on a new era with new supporter Bounty Agri Ventures Inc., under the Chooks to Go brand, ready to roll out everything to achieve the goal.
“We’re honored for the support being extended to Gilas team. The amount they are extending is significant and will go a long way for all the expenses for the next few years,” former Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Manuel V. Pangilinan said at the launch of the partnership on Tuesday at the Makati Shangri-La.
“Our first event is the Seaba [Southeast Asia Basketball Association] Championship next year in March, and we need to win that. The next is the Fiba Asia Championship, then the start of the home and away from November 2017 to February 2019. And the next is the Big Dance in China,” he added.
Pangilinan was referring to the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) World Cup of Basketball in 2019, which the country attempted to host only to lose to China in a bidding war.
Bounty President Ronald Daniel Mascarinas said their company was honored to be part of the Gilas journey and will give the country’s most popular national team the support it needed.
“Our country is united in hope and prayer every time Gilas plays. The impact of Gilas Pilipinas to the Filipino people transcends basketball. It gave our small and struggling country inspiration that we can be competitive in the world,” Mascariñas said.
“It is our greatest honor and pride to join MVP [Pangilinan] and Smart in supporting the quest of Gilas Pilipinas to once again play in the 2020 Olympics. This partnership makes our company’s successes more meaningful as we are able to share it with people who truly give hope, unity and honor to our country.”
One familiar face returning to the Gilas fold is Chot Reyes, who coached the team back to the World Cup of Basketball in Spain in 2014. He replaced Tab Baldwin, who missed the chance of bringing the country to the Olympics after finishing second to 2015 Fiba Asia Championship and was swept in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila in June.
“Why I came back as Gilas coach? You never say no to MVP. I said I’m retired from professional coaching, not coaching the national team because it’s my way of giving service to the country,” Reyes said.
Joining Pangilinan, Reyes and Mascarinas were members of the Gilas pool, led by veterans Ranidel de Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros, Terrence Romeo and JC Intal.
Gilas cadets Almond Vosotros, Matthew Wright, Jonathan Grey, Von Pessumal, Alfonso Gotladera, Ed Daquioag, Russel Escotom, RR Pogoy, Kevin Ferrer, Carl Bryan Cruz, Jio Jalalon, Michael Tolomia and Mac Belo were also present, along with new additions Paul Desiderio and Jett Manuel.