Towns cites fans for showing respect

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — As they head to the exits, Karl-Anthony Towns and his Dominican Republic squad are bringing with them lasting memories of a rocking time in Manila.

The Dominicans, Gilas Pilipinas’ conqueror in the first round, enjoyed not only a good run over two rounds highlighted by a 3-0 sweep of Group A but also the famous Filipino hospitality and strong passion for basketball.

Even in their final appearance Sunday night at the Big Dome, a 79-112 loss to Serbia, Towns was moved by the applause and cheers Pinoys showered him with when he checked out for a final time at the 3:35 mark of the fourth.

“It means a lot to be respected. Something I feel I don’t get much back home,” the Dominican-American star for the Minnesota Timberwolves said. “It was moving. I feel respected. It meant a lot, something I don’t get much of.”

DR coach Nestor “Che” Garcia gave props to the host country in their very last post-game presscon.

“It’s been an amazing experience with the people, how they treat us. They’re very, very kind people with a lot of respect,” he said.

The Caribbean side was part of FIBA World Cup history when it played host Philippines in front of a new all-time crowd of 38,115 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan in the Aug. 25 opener.

Though subjected to boos and jeers the whole game, which they won, 87-81, the Dominicans never felt disrespected at all. After the match, Towns even went to one section of the arena to oblige for selfies with Filipino fans who stayed behind and shouted his name.

“I always said this place is special. I had never been here before, but I just could feel the energy and the passion for basketball. I have always wanted to come here. Thank you for being such a gracious host to all of us. Thank you so much!” Towns said.

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