MANILA – The first Gilas Pilipinas squad made up of players from the Philippine Basketball Association has been named among the Philippine ambassadors for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
The all-pro squad made history in 2013 by winning the silver in the then FIBA Asia Championship, now simply known as the FIBA Asia Cup, qualifying them for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the Philippines' first appearance in the global event since 1978.
Four of its players, Barangay Ginebra's LA Tenorio and Jeff Chan, NLEX Road Warrior Larry Fonacier, and Manila Star Gary David, who was part of NorthPort in 2013 and Meralco in 2014, were present when their squad was formally introduced during the FIBA World Cup One Year to Go press conference at the TV5 Media Center in Mandaluyong on Thursday.
"We're just very happy and honored to be part of this big event a year from now. Sobrang thankful kami (We’re so thankful) for the opportunity," Tenorio said.
The rest of the historic squad are Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Marcus Douthit, Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Paul Lee, Japeth Aguilar, and Marc Pingris.
Aguilar is the only active Gilas player left from the 2013-2014 batch as he is tapped for the current Gilas team that will play Lebanon on Friday (Philippine time) for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, although Fajardo was part of the pool only that he had to be taken out after San Miguel made the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
With Aguilar's inclusion, he gets to join the core of the Gilas squad who were just youngsters then supporting the original all-PBA Gilas when the team made history.
Now, for Tenorio, it's time for the "kuyas" to return the favor to their heir apparent.
"A lot of these guys who are playing now for our team, they were cheering for us. Now, it's our time to give back and share our experience when we were back there battling for our country," he said.
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray has been tapped as well as a local ambassador for the FIBA World Cup.
There will be local ambassadors as well from the other two co-host nations, Japan and Indonesia, as well as the global ambassador for the event. (PNA)