Gilas Pilipinas 2014 World Cup members Larry Fonacier, LA Tenorio, Jeff Chan and Gary David along with Ms. Universe 2018 Catriona Gray were introduced as local ambassadors of the 2023 World Cup during the One Year to Go Media Conference at the TV5 Media Center on Thursday, Aug. 25.

The local ambassadors of the FIBA World Cup 2023 along with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executives. (Ali Vicoy)

Gracing the event were Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio, vice president Ricky Vargas, executive director Sonny Barrios and FIBA 2023 World Cup executive director David Crocker.

The country shifts its preparation to a higher gear for the global showpiece starting with the unveiling of the Tissot Clock countdown at the Mall of Asia Arena simultaneously with the other two host countries Japan and Indonesia on Saturday, Aug. 27.

The beauty queen expressed her excitement of representing the country on a different capacity entirely different from the usual bright lights of the pageantry

“I think it’s really the pride that is overflowing from our kababayan when we see each other excel in sports and in basketball and it really reminds me of the support that I have when I also represented the country in the international stage,” said Gray.

“Now being able to not only represent the Philippines once again in this capacity but to also encourage our countrymen to express their support and love for their athletes as they go out there and really carry the Philippine flag high in the arena of sports. I really look forward to welcoming the world’s eyes and visitors here to the Philippines, I know we will have a celebration like no other,” she added.

The former Gilas players were also grateful for the opportunity to repay the support they got during their time with the national team.

“We’re just very happy to be part of this big event. Sobrang thankful kami sa opportunity. Before when we were playing back in 2014, I’m sure everyone was cheering for us and these guys, who are playing with our team, are cheering for us. Now, it’s our time to give back, for us to share our experience,” said Tenorio who was then joined by the likes of Marc Pingris, June Mar Fajardo, Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Paul Lee, Japeth Aguilar, Marcus Douthit, and Andray Blatche in the national team.

“It’s the connection, synching that love for the game with everyone. We’re a basketball crazy country and kami talag we enjoyed every step of the journey. I thought nga tapos na yung journey when we finished but ngayon there’s a continuation of that journey and we’re excited na we can share our experience off the court and just really help in any way we can of being ambassadors,” echoed Fonacier.

Source: Manila Bulletin (