|Batang Gilas is going to the FIBA U19 World Cup for the first time since eventual PBA stars Bai Cristobal and Hector Calma were just a few years off from high school. FIBA|
LAS PIÑAS -- The news of Batang Gilas booking their return to the FIBA U19 World Cup after a 40-year absence has reached the friendly confines of the Perpetual Help gymnasiunm where the final stop of the NCAA On Tour was taking place on Thursday.
And indeed, men's basketball commissioner Bai Cristobal was very proud that Kai Sotto and co. had made a mincemeat of Bahrain in their quarterfinal tiff that was played at the same time as the Junior Altas and the Staglets battle in the curtain raiser.
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"Ok. Maganda, masaya. Good for our country," the former Crispa Redmanizer said after Josh Reyes masterminded their return after their first and lone appearance in the global stage in Brazil in 1979 where they finished 10th out of 12 nations.
In a side mentored by Turo Valenzona, Cristobal led the then-RP Youth team in scoring with 18.6 per game, in which he had fellow basketball legends such as JB Yango, Hector Calma, Joel Banal and Marte Saldaña as teammates.
He then reiterated the pride of playing for the country, despite the fact that he did not remember their time in Salvador.
"Alam ko lang ang lalaki ng kalaban. Pero as a player, they should be proud that they represent nila yung country. Bihira lang mangyari yan," he said.
He then sent the new generation of Batang Gilas his best regards in Nothanburi, where they take on the Emus in Friday's semifinal, saying, "I'm just wishing you all the best. I'm so proud na more power na makapagrepresent sa 18 and under."
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