By Armando Fenequito
DAVAO CITY – Senator Bong Go defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that Philippine Basketball team Gilas Pilipinas will surely lose to Italy in its first match for the FIBA World Championship 2019 in China.
Go said the statement of the President should serve as a challenge for the Philippine team to win despite the disadvantages.
The senator, chairman of the Senate committee on sports, said the President will watch the first match of the Philippine team in Foshan, China on August 31.
“With the presence of the President on the sidelines, it will be a big morale booster,” he said.
Go will also give his full support to the team and will be sitting in the bench of Gilas as one of the team’s advisers.
“Hopefully, we will win in the first game and we will qualify for the next stage of the tournament,” he said.
In an interview with Sports 5 last week, Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said the team was not bothered by the President’s comments that got the ire of basketball fans on social media.
Guiao said Duterte’s comment should be taken as a challenge as he believed that the President is rooting for them to win.
Last August 6, Duterte said in his speech during the oath-taking of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., that the Philippine team is no match to Italy due to height disadvantage. However, the national team could dominate Angola which is its second opponent in the tournament.