TEAM Pilipinas received the perfect morale boost to its campaign in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers as past members of the national team attended a special send-off for the squad at the Meralco gym on Wednesday.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio and executive director Sonny Barrios welcomed the team and the special guests, that included San Miguel governor Robert Non, Ginebra governor and San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua, and PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial.
Olympic teammates Rafael Hechanova and Antonio Genato joined fellow great Robert Jaworski Sr. in inspiring the present day national quintet as it prepares for the fifth window of the qualifier starting this Friday.
Others lending their presence were Olympians Arturo Valenzona, Manny Paner, Ed Roque, Marte Samson, and Jimmy Mariano.
Former national player and Ginebra stalwart Chito Loyzaga along with Alaska team manager and governor Dickie Bachmann also came over to represent their late fathers, the legendary Caloy Loyzaga and Kurt Bachmann.
"We know we would not be here kung hindi po doon sa mga trailblazers natin who paved the way for us to be here," said Guiao in acknowledging the presence of some of the country's basketball legends. "Maramaing salamat po sa pagpapalakas sa aming puso."
Prior to the send-off, Team Pilipinas held its last practice at the venue two days before it sees action against Kazakhstan at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Guiao believes the team is ready to go to battle.
"We're trying to cover all the bases at this point," he said after the two-hour practice with only Christian Standhardinger and Kai Sotto not around.
The team, which has been doing video watching the past couple of days, will practice one more time on Thursday and then do some light shoot-around on Friday morning.
"Palagay ko ready na naman," said Guiao.
The coaching staff, according to Guiao already has a list of 10 players to make up the final roster for the Kazakhstan game, with the final two slots deliberated by them just after the sendoff.
What is certain though is Stanley Pringle will serve as Team Pilipinas' naturalized player for the Kazakhtsan match and Standhardinger suiting up for the Iran game on Dec. 3 also at the MoA.
"More or less si Stanley na sa Kazakshtan, si Christian na ang sa Iran," said Guiao.