NBA four-time champion Tony Parker of France considers Gilas Pilipinas a very dangerous team and he understands that facing the host nation on opening day of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) is an important step for Les Bleus bid to advance in the Rio Games.
“They (Gilas) are very dangerous. We respect everybody. Tuesday is going to be a very big game,” said the 6-foot-2 Parker during a press conference hosted by Peak yesterday at Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.
France and the Philippines – both in Group B of the OQT with New Zealand – will collide tomorrow at 9 p.m. the start of the tournament set at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
Ranked No. 5 in the world, France – led by Parker of the San Antonio Spurs – is favored to win the Manila OQT. Only the winner will earn a spot in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Aside from Parker, the team also has his Spurs teammate Boris Diaw, a 6-foot-8 power forward, and 6-foot-5 guard Nando de Colo, a former NBA player with the Spurs and Toronto Raptors.
The 34-year-old Parker, a first timer in the country, is very impressed with the warm reception he receives and that he’s enjoying so far his stay as he is with his family.
“It’s been a great experience so far,” said Parker, the Finals MVP in 2007.
“People are very friendly here, and I’ve been enjoying my time, and I can’t wait to check out more of the city,” Parker said, although adding that winning the OQT is his main objective here.
“That’s the main thing, we have to qualify. That’s the most important thing for me,” added Parker, a Peak endorser since 2013 with his own line of signature basketball shoes and apparels.
Parker said that playing for France and the Spurs are two different things.