[box type=”default” size=”large”] Despite winning only one game, team still felt victorious [/box]
SEVILLA, Spain — It may be just one win out of five games but the impact of the victory was not lost on the Filipino patrons of the team who showered members of Gilas Pilipinas with millions in cash rewards during a dinner party held Thursday night (Sept. 4) to celebrate the Philippines’ 81-79 overtime win over Senegal earlier in the day.
“Happy for Gilas, happy for the country,” he said shortly after the team, which he has bankrolled in millions, delivered on the final day and final match in the group phase of the FIBA World Cup.
Putting his money where his mouth is, the affable SMART and PLDT top honcho then told his guests at dinner that he was giving the players a bonus.
“The media is here,” he said, “so I won’t say how much.”
“Just let me know in what currency you want it – euro, dollars or pesos,” he said as Gilas members whooped it up.
“I want it in gold bars,” shouted June Mar Fajardo, the team’s 6-foot-10 power forward whose heroics in Game 5 helped secure the win.
Before long, another businessman, Cecilio Pedro who owns, among others, Hapee toothpaste, announced that he was adding P1 million to the kitty.
Next was Pato Gregorio who, on behalf of the PBA, also pledged P1 million. Gregorio was installed recently as chairman of the league’s board of governors, replacing Meralco’s Ramon Segismundo who was among the other governors present during the party.
The cash bonuses will be divided among the 12 players and the coaching staff.
The players and guests dined on mixed Spanish and American dishes that included tenderloin steak as pre-main meal appetizer.
Wine and beer flowed as the team celebrated the country’s first victory in the FIBA world championship in 40 years. (Ding Marcelo, MB)