Smart Gilas Pilipinas National Team

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) formally announced Tuesday that it has entered into a media partnership agreement with television network giant GMA-7 for the series of games of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas National Team in the Middle East.

Smart Gilas is slated to leave Wednesday for Doha, Qatar as part of a 17-day tour of the Gulf as it begins preparations for the Asian Games this November in China.

The young National Team led by Serbian Coach Rajko Toroman will play two games against the Qatar National Team on January 8 and 9 before participating in the tough 21st Dubai International Tournament from January 14 to 23.

Prior to the tournament, Smart Gilas will play exhibition games for the Filipino communities in Dubai as well against a club team from Jordan and the UAE.

Toroman and his players, led by team captain Chris Tiu and UAAP most valuable player (MVP) Dylan Ababou, along with SBP officials Rico Meneses and Perry Martinez, paid a courtesy call to GMA Network, Inc. chairman, president and CEO Felipe L. Gozon and EVP and COO Gilberto R. Duavit prior to the team’s departure.

Under the partnership, GMA will cover Gilas’ Middle East activities and air a special on GMA’s PinoyTV.

GMA has also agreed to provide subsidy for the Mideast trip of the National Team and is studying the possibility of even acquiring the tapes of the Dubai tournament for airing on its network.

“We fully support the national team, financially, morally and spiritually because we need to have athletes who will represent the country and win. And basketball is the national sport,” said Gozon, who warmly welcomed the team that is tasked to bring the Philippines back into the Olympics by 2012.

For his part, Duavit said the coverage of Gilas intends to “create a lot of interest in terms of what the national team is doing” especially among OFWs in the places that they will be visiting.

SBP Executive Director Noli Eala lauded the partnership as a “milestone agreement that augurs well for the campaign to bring back national pride.”

“In behalf of our President Manny Pangilinan, we are very grateful for the support of a respected industry leader like GMA led by visionaries like Chairman Gozon and Mr. Duavit to the Smart Gilas National Team.

The resources that GMA network are providing the team is a big boost in our aggressive campaign to prepare to qualify for the Olympics,” Eala said.

“The best part is because of this historic partnership, Smart Gilas will have more interaction with our Filipino communities in Qatar and the UAE. We need all the support and prayers of our countrymen in our quest to bring back pride and glory to the Philippines.” Eala added.

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