By Waylon Galvez
The country’s turn to host the FIBA Basketball World Cup is still five years away, but top officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) are aware preparation should start as soon as possible.
The ball starts rolling this year.
SBP Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan recently said that playing venues are the priorities of FIBA officials for the 2023 World Cup, which the country won in a joint bid with Indonesia and Japan.
In its recent here, FIBA gave its approval to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan and the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, the site of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
However, the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City has to be renovated, particularly the hallways leading to the basketball court from the different dugouts of the teams.
“It needs to be fixed, it’s a concern by FIBA,” said Pangilinan.
“Their conclusion is that both the MOA Arena and the Philippine Arena, these are world class facilities, probably the best basketball venues in the world. We’ll talk to officials of Araneta Coliseum,” he added.
The setup in the joint hosting of the three Asian nations is that preliminary games will be played in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines, with the Philippines hosting the knockout matches – from the quarterfinals, semifinals to the finals.
SBP President Al Panlilio said that playing at the Philippine Arena would probably break attendance records, especially if the United States takes the floor at the start of the preliminary rounds.
“I think we’ll surpass the attendance (record), that’s for sure,” said Panlilio. The standing record at the said venue is 54,086 set in Game 7 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between Meralco and eventual champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last October.
Under the setup, 16 teams will play here in the preliminary, while Indonesia and Japan will have eight each. Panlilio said that if the US Team were drawn here, the Americans would likely play a maximum of nine games, including, most likely, the finals.
“Imagine the impact it will have on the Filipino youth,” said Panlilio.
Aside from the playing venues, another priority according to Pangilnan is for the SBP to establish the Local Organizing Committee, as well as a team that will observe in the 2019 World Cup in China.
“We’ll form a team on what’s happening in China, probably learn from them – the mistakes – and the good things that they’re making,” said Pangilinan, who pushed for the hosting bid after the Philippines lost to China in 2015 for the rights to stage the 2019 World Cup.
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