The SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team was in full force for the victory dinner Monday night to celebrate its win in the 34th William Jones Cup.
The celebration was prepared by sports patron and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manuel V. Pangilinan, who also chairs SMART Communications.
“The team deserves all the credit at nagdulot sila ng kasiyahan sa buong bansa,” said Pangilinan. “Hopefully this is the beginning. Ang susunod na tournament ay sa Tokyo in September, we only have two weeks to prepare.”
(InterAKTV is part of InterAksyon.com, the online news site of TV5, which Pangilinan also chairs.)
SMART-Gilas is slated to compete in the FIBA Asia Cup slated on September 14 to 22 in Japan. The tournament, like the Jones Cup, is part of the Philippine team’s build up for next year’s FIBA Asia Championship, which serves as qualifier to the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
But members of SMART-Gilas took time to relax during the victory dinner, with GlobalPort star guard Gary David leading his teammates in a victory dance. Shortly after the team’s win over USA to clinch the Jones Cup, David was caught on video teaching his teammates the choregraphed dance moves.
SMART-Gilas coach Chot Reyes said the players were motivated by a desire to bring joy to their countrymen.
“I said a lot of Filipinos are wishing you well and you are really playing for an entire nation,” he said. “I told them, ‘Think of the people who you really play for.’”
LA Tenorio, who was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, bared the secret to the team’s success: “There’s a lot of interviews na nagtatanong sa ‘kin kung anong formula ng team na ‘to. Isa lang sinasabi ko: It’s the heart of the players.”