Right after SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ win over Chinese-Taipei Monday evening, Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas gathered the entire team and the members of the press for a thanksgiving dinner at Barrio Fiesta in Ali Mall.
Mascariñas, one of the chief boosters of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, not only gave the players their allowances and incentives during the get-together, but also honored two players that have been exemplary both on and off the court.
Together with Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, Mascariñas gave the Sportsmanship award for the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers to Allein Maliksi.
Though he did not see playing time in the first two games of the qualifiers, the 30-year-old Maliksi did not show any signs of bitterness all throughout. Instead, he used this opportunity to cheer on the team from the bench, providing the added boost that Gilas badly needed to be able to carve out the team’s two wins.
Maliksi was given PHP 50,000.00 on top of his allowance and incentive.
In a surprise, the first-ever Chooks-to-Go Loyalty Award was also handed out.
The first recipient of the “ironman” honor was Gabe Norwood, as 2017 marked his 10th year of service to the program.
“It’s humbling, very humbling,” shared the 6-foot-6 swingman. “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years right? It’s just an honor to be a part of this team, part of this group.
“Thank you to Chooks-to-Go for this. I really appreciate it,” added the Gilas veteran, who averaged 7.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists during the first window of the WCQ.
Though he had been part of the teams that won silver back in the 2013 and 2015 editions of the FIBA Asia Championship, Norwood sees this batch as something special. And this is because the majority of the young players from this crop were inspired bythe 2013 team’s triumph in the Asia Championship.
“The young guys are awesome. They bring a lot of energy to this team,” Norwood beamed.
“They are not just the future of Gilas but also the future of Philippine basketball.”
But at 32, Norwood does not know how many years he has left to serve the country. That is why he is relishing this experience and imparting everything he can to the next generation of Gilas players.
“Time is undefeated so I’m just here, trying to enjoy every moment,” he said. “The format really helps but we don’t know how the PBA will work with it.
“But I’m just going to be here, enjoying every moment.”
Norwood took home a check worth PHP 60,000.00.
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