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What drives the Gilas stars?

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THE SPORTS performance and overall styling of the Mazda6 mirror Jimmy Alapag’s aggressive brand of play.

These guys just made it to the nation’s consciousness as a bunch of dribblers driven by the will to survive against the toughest of odds. And succeed they did.

Carried by the brilliant coaching of Chot Reyes, the Gilas squad turned the basketball world upside down with a runner-up finish in the FIBA Asia Championship, thus sending the country back to the international limelight.

“Puso” has become the country’s sports battlecry, and in a whirlwind 11-day span, basketball became endeared to Filipinos even more.

Motioncars-Inquirer Motoring went on special assignment in the midst of a national euphoria over the Gilas’ qualification to the FIBA World Championship in Spain and asked the Gilas stars—all certified millionaires in the pro league with megabuck contracts—about the cars they drive.

We also asked them what their dream cars are, or to para-phrase, next car purchases if the bonus from their patron, business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, is big enough.

Suffice to say that we also wanted to know if the character of a cage star can be seen from the car he drives.

Here’s what we found out:

Jeff Chan, the certified sniper, has a previous-model Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Altis for his daily drives. He would like to shift to a Dodge Durango soon, which better suits his 6-foot-2 frame  and is big enough to take him and his family on country drives in Bacolod.

YOU KNOW who’s the boss when the Lexus GX460 of Reyes arrives.

The sports performance and perfect interior and exterior styling of the Mazda6 that Gilas captain Jimmy Alapag drives perfectly match his fierce ballhandling and court savvy. Don’t be surprised if one day, you’ll see the California-born playmaker take his beloved wife LJ Moreno on a date driving his dream  Maserati speedster.

Marc Pingris owns a Toyota Camry that he uses for family trips with wife Danica and son Jean Michel. There is much more to the Camry than the comfort it actually provides since the executive sedan can be as tough as when Pingris played with just one good foot against Korea in a crucial game, and even became a big factor in the victory. The 31-year-old has a few good years remaining in his career and might still be able to work on his dream Lamborghini car.

It must be about the initials, reason why big man Ranidel de Ocampo has kept a Revo made by Toyota for so long. But just as hardworking as this big man inside the paint, like the way he did against giant Haddadi of Iran for a backup job in the absence of teammate Marcus Douthit, he went for a Chevrolet Colorado as a second car.

It could be his adventurous nature or simply a good option for his regular drive to his Pampanga hometown, but top of RDO’s wish list is the top-of-the-line Land Cruiser.

Loyalty is one trait that runs in the blood of Larry Fonacier. As soon as he got behind the wheel of a Toyota Vios two years ago, it became his daily ride, and the sweet-shooting hitman wouldn’t want to settle for anything but the country’s No. 1 best-selling sedan. There is a bit of irony with his choice: a David-versus-Goliath story which continues to make the Vios a favorite among the Filipinos for the longest time even when pitted with the best the world has to offer.

Japeth Aguilar, meanwhile, owns a Toyota Fortuner and is dreaming of driving a Bentley or a Lexus LFA in the future.

THERE IS much more to the Camry than the comfort it actually provides to Pingris.

LA Tenorio seems to know his motoring so he went for a big SUV, a compact sedan and a van to complete a family package. He has the new Ford Explorer, a previous Honda City model and a Hyundai Starex, a combo that is a typical choice of a family man. He’s going for the big league with his next purchase, if it’s going to be possible, which is a Range Rover.

Wondering what the boss is driving?

Coach Chot Reyes is just super comfortable with the Lexus GX460 that makes a strong announcement of his arrival every time he goes to the arena for a real or practice game.

No pressure to upgrade, he tells Inquirer Motoring, but a Porsche Panamera is not going to be bad at all.

Special thanks to player agent Charlie Dy and businessman Lovell Gopez for their contributions to this article.

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