By Waylon Galvez
If there is one thing that Manny V. Pangilinan wants to have as his basketball legacy, it’s for the Philippines to finally get the hosting rights of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Pangilinan, chairman emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), expressed this desire as the Philippines is on the running again to host the event after falling short I getting the 2019 World Cup, which FIBA awarded to China.
“If there is any legacy that I’d like to leave in the sport of basketball, it’s that the Philippines will, after so many years, we’ll have the center of attention in the world in the sport of basketball.” said Pangilinan.
In its bid to FIBA, the country will be the main host of the World Cup while partners Indonesia and Japan will be the satellite venues where preliminary games will be played.
Under the setup, the Philippines will likewise host several preliminary games before staging the knockout matches that culminate with the championship game.
The Philippines-Japan-Indonesia partnership is competing with the similar joint bid of Argentina and Uruguay for the 2023 hosting, which FIBA will decide on Dec. 9 in Mies, Switzerland.
Russia and Turkey, two other countries that were in contention, both withdrew from their respective bids last week after the initial meeting with FIBA officials last month.
Asked if he’s optimistic about the country’s chances, the telecommunications magnate and local sports patron said: “Well, I’m guardedly optimistic, and I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Pangilinan has reasons to feel that way because of two key personalities with Argentinian roots.
“Siyempre, the president of FIBA (Horacio Muratore) is Argentinian although I’m sure he’ll recuse himself. More importantly the Pope (Francis) is Argentinian right? So God must be on their side,” said Pangilinan.
“So we might have to invoke Allah,” he added in jest.
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