Baldwin warns: Tony Parker may be public enemy no. 1 in Manila

Jane Bracher
Baldwin warns: Tony Parker may be public enemy no. 1 in Manila
Tony Parker may face a tough crowd in Manila for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament when France battles Gilas Pilipinas

MANILA, Philippines – Tony Parker will certainly receive a warm – if not electric – welcome from Filipinos when he sets foot here this July for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.  

However, when it comes time for the Philippine national team to do battle against Parker’s formidable France squad, Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin hopes that warmth grows cold. 

“We will welcome him to Manila and I hope the kababayans welcome him in a way that only the Filipino fans can welcome an opposing player, and a player who will be in that situation when we play them (will be) very much disliked in this country,” he said after Gilas practice on Monday, February 29. 

(READ: Gilas Pilipinas on ‘upward’ curve at practice, says Baldwin)

“The day after we can love Tony for the all the wonderful things that he is and has given to the game of basketball and he represents. But on that day he could possibly be public enemy no. 1.” 

Parker, 33, confirmed he will be going on one last tour of duty for his country as they make a last-ditch attempt at reaching the 2016 Rio Olympics this August.

“If a hundred million fans denote him as public enemy no. 1 then he should have a relatively uncomfortable day,” added Baldwin, whose Gilas team is slated to face France and New Zealand in Group B

The veteran San Antonio Spurs guard and 4-time NBA champion was initially tentative about his participation owing to the fact that his wife is set to give birth to their second son in July. The Qualifier will be held from July 5 to 10. 

It was a decision which had to be taken together,” Parker was quoted as saying. “She knows how important this is for me. We evaluated all the possibilities and I’ve made my decision. I said, ‘I’m going.’ 

Veteran forward Marc Pingris, who is part French, also weighed in on potentially playing against a motivated Parker, whose team – ranked 5th in the world by FIBA – finished third in the 2015 EuroBasket and missed out on the outright Olympics berth. 

Alam kong gagawin niya rin lahat (para manalo). Kung ako rin nasa sitwasyon niya gagawin ko rin lahat. Pero katulad ng sinasabi ni coach, kailangan talaga sa practice pa lang paghandaan na (I know he will do everything he can to win. If I was in his position I would give it my all, too. But like coach said, we need to prepare for him in practice),” Pingris explained. 

(WATCH: Gilas coach Baldwin talks Olympic Qualifier, program’s future)

Alam namin na napakagaling, ilan championship na nakuha niya sa NBA, beterano na talaga (We know he’s very good, he has a lot of championships in the NBA, he’s a veteran).”

And if he was to defend Parker? 

French siya, French din ako. Bakit hindi,” Pingris, whose full name is Jean Marc, cracked a joke. “Kung may blue cheese siya, tayo may kesong puti tayo.” (He’s French, I’m French. Why not. If he has blue cheese, we have kesong puti.)

Si Tony Parker magaling talaga sa pick-and-roll yan e. So hindi lang dapat ako yung dumepensa sa kanya. Yung buong Gilas.” (Tony Parker is very good with the pick-and-roll. So I can’t be the only one defending him. It has to be the entire Gilas.)

Some NBA stars who could possibly be in Manila for the tournament are Andrew Wiggins (Canada), Kelly Olynyk (Canada), Boris Diaw (France), Evan Fournier (France), and Omer Asik (Turkey), among others. –

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