Ramon Ang lauds Manny Pangilinan for 'vision, dedication' in shaping Gilas ahead of Asian Games final

Gilas Pilipinas defied pre-tournament odds to make it to the Asian Games final to the delight of SMC chief Ramon Ang. PSC-POC Media Pool (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—San Miguel Corporation president Ramon Ang congratulated Gilas Pilipinas for defying the odds and clinching a spot in the Asian Games men's 5x5 basketball gold medal game.

Gilas stormed back from 20 points down and stole the semifinal win from host country China at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center on Wednesday night behind the heroics of Justin Brownlee.

"Let me join millions of Filipino basketball fans in congratulating Gilas Pilipinas—from its coaches to the players and team management—on our country’s historic return to the Asian Games Finals after 33 years," Ang said in a statement on Thursday.

SMC personnel played vital roles in bringing Gilas closer to the Promised Land despite having to do with a hastily built lineup.

SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua serves as the current team manager, while Ginebra coach Tim Cone was named head coach for the Asian Games.

And then there's Brownlee, the Gin Kings' resident import who made the game-winners during their last two games against Iran in the quarterfinals and China in the semis.

Amid all the speculations of what could happen to the Gilas program down the road, Ang heaved praises to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman emeritus Manny Pangilinan for conceptualizing the current national team incarnation.

"Our sincere appreciation goes to Mr. Manny Pangilinan, Chairman Emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, whose vision and dedication have been instrumental in shaping the Gilas Pilipinas we cheer for today. He conceived, nurtured, and invested in the program, and it is his unwavering support and guidance all these years that molded—and continues to drive—the team," Ang further said.

He then said that the SMC is proud to support Gilas, saying, "Gilas Pilipinas has given our country great honor, and San Miguel Corporation is proud to be supporting the team, along with many others—including private sector partners, government, the Philippine Basketball Association—whose collaborative efforts have helped make this Asian Games journey not just memorable, but also triumphant."

Only Jordan, featuring returning TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, stands in the way in Gilas' bid to give the Philippines its first Asian Games basketball gold since 1962, and Ang called on everyone to continue their support ahead of Friday night's blockbuster showdown.

"As Gilas Pilipinas sets its sights on the gold, let us all continue to be united, and wish them all the best," he concluded.

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