• Gilas players express shock over explosion that rocked Istanbul airport just hours after they departed.
• National coach Tab Baldwin says Turkey his home for 3 years; thankful Gilas, Turk teams safe.
The bombing at the Ataruk Airport sent chills to members of Gilas Pilipinas as the attack committed by suicide bombers happened just several hours after the national team left Istanbul, Turkey.
Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche expressed shock at what happened, which killed scores of people at the busy arrival section of the airport perpetrated allegedly by three suicide bombers.
“Me and my teammates was just there! Wow!” Blatche posted on his Instagram account @draylive.
“Thank you God for watching over us I’m really lost for words I woke up to a lot of texts from friends checking on me if I’m ok thanx love yal,” added Blatche, a 6-foot-11 center who will play for the national team for the third straight year after he made his debut in 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Gilas mentor Tab Baldwin likewise posted his thoughts on his Twitter, calling Turkey his “home”.
“Turkey was my home 4 nearly 3 years. So saddened & worried for friends there. Thank the Lord our Gilas and Turk teams are safe. #Prayers,” said Baldwin in his account @iHob1111.
The national team arrived Tuesday night from a three-week European training for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), flying from Italy to Istanbul where the squad took a connecting flight to Manila.
Several hours upon their arrival, the terror attack happened, which reportedly claimed the lives of 36 people and injured dozens as well – a terror attack claimed by the ISIS group.
“Woke up in Manila to the news of the events at the airport in Istanbul,” said forward Gabe Norwood on his Facebook page. “Literally sick to my stomach knowing that we took off earlier that morning on our return trip to the Philippines.”
“My thoughts and prayers go out to victims and their families,” he added.
On Instagram, Jeff Chan and Marc Pingris also posted their thoughts.
“We were just there a day before this happened. It’s so surreal… Praying for the victims. #PrayForIstanbul,” said the Rain or Shine shooting guard on his IG handle @jeffreichan
“Grabe dito lang kami kanina pauwi ng manila,” Pingris said via his IG account @jeanmarc15. “Wala pang 5hours bago nanyari to. LORD SALAMAT SA PAG GABAY MO SA AMIN NG TEAM GILAS #prayforturkey #istanbul.”
Gilas team manager Butch Antonio said that the bombing happened a bit far from where the national team was when they were still at the airport, but was still scary to think it happened just hours after they left.
“Sa labas nangyari bandang arrival area so safe naman kung nagkataon pero siempre nakakatakot din,” said Antonio, who also posted on his Twitter handle his thoughts on the victims.
“Thank you lord for our (Gilas) safe passage out of Istanbul. I’m saddened by what just happened at the Istanbul airport,” said the Gilas official via @BAAntonio.