ICYMI, Carmelo Anthony has joined Argentina’s Luis Scola and Spain’s Pau Gasol as an ambassador for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. No high-profile name fits the title better than Anthony, who has three Olympic gold medals to his name and is a different beast altogether on the national team.
Melo made his introduction at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, an announcement spoiled by sightings of him around Manila. The 75th NBA Anniversary Team member was feeling his brief time in the Philippines, which, along with Japan and Indonesia, serves as a host of the current World Cup.
He referenced one of his idols, the great Muhammad Ali, who fought inside the legendary arena during “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975 against Joe Frazier. He also honored Kobe Bryant, who visited Manila several times, adding that the Laker great kept telling him to come to PH, saying “you have to get here, they love you.”
When asked what the FIBA hosting means for the basketball-crazed country, Melo says it’s a sign of growth. “Win, lose, or draw, the Philippines could be proud,” he said. “That’s also gonna propel the Philippines down the line when it comes to continuing the development of the game of basketball.”
On how “Puso” leads to winning
The NBA legend was also in the crowd during the Gilas Pilipinas game, which saw a win against Lebanon at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. The Nationals banked on a hot-shooting hand early on before banking on gritty defense to sustain the lead. It was a showcase of teamwork and “Puso,” the signature rally cry of the Philippine team and its ardent supporters.
For Carmelo Anthony, Puso or “Heart” is everything when it comes to winning.
“I think Heart is all of it,” he says when asked by Complex PH. “You can have the skill or the talent, but if you don’t have the heart to put that talent to the test, then what’s the point of having all of that?”
“I think everything starts with the Heart. You care and understand and feel emotional about it, so once you build that connection to the game of basketball, the skill and talent level come. You take all of that and make the best opportunity for you.”
Gilas Pilipinas will undoubtedly need a lot of Heart, among others, when it goes up against the likes of the USA and Spain when the World Cup is in full swing in August. The country, which automatically qualified due to its host status, still holds the best medal finish for an Asian country. Led by the likes of Carlos Loyzaga and Lauro Mumar, the national team won bronze at the 1954 FIBA World Cup.