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Duterte backs W Cup bid; record crowd seen in final

President Duterte, center, does the ‘fist pose’ with FIBA officials during a courtesy call at Malacañang Thursday night. Joining the President are Manny V. Pangilinan, chairman emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, MVP Group top executive Mike Toledo, SBP president Al Panlilio and SBP official Butch Antonio.  RICHARD MADELO/MALACAÑANG PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — If FIBA awards the hosting rights of the 2023 World Cup to the multi-nation consortium of the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan, SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan guarantees a new attendance record in the final which is proposed to be held at the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

The existing record is 35,000, set when the US beat host Brazil, 62-41, in the gold medal game of the 1954 World Cup where the Philippines took third place, the highest finish ever by an Asian country in the event. The contest was staged at the Maracanazinho, an indoor stadium north of Rio de Janeiro.

Pangilinan, SBP president Al Panlilio and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano are set to speak in a 30-minute program where the consortium’s bid will be formally presented to the visiting three-man FIBA Evaluation Commission at the Forbes Ballroom in the Conrad Hotel tonight. After the presentation, the Commission will meet with SBP officials in a closed-door, question-and-answer conference.

The Commission is made up of FIBA Central Board members Hamane Niang of Mali and Ingo Weiss of Germany and FIBA senior consultant Lubomir Kotleba of Slovakia who all flew in yesterday. Japan Basketball Association deputy secretary-general Hirota Matsuhiro and Indonesian Basketball Association president Danny Kosasih are also in town to attend the proceedings. Before coming to Manila, the Commission visited Okinawa and Jakarta to inspect their facilities and review hosting arrangements. 

The 32 countries participating in the 2023 FIBA World Cup will be split into eight groups of four. In the bid, Japan and Indonesia will host two groups each while the Philippines will welcome four. That means there will be eight teams playing in Japan, eight in Indonesia and 16 in the Philippines in the preliminaries. After the first round, the top two finishers of each group advance to the second round. The top eight of the 16 survivors then move on to the knockout quarterfinals in Manila. The semifinals and final will also be held in Manila.

From the airport, the Commission was brought to the Manila Hotel for dinner and later met with President Duterte in a private function room for about 30 minutes last Thursday. Accompanying the FIBA officials in the meeting with the Chief Executive were Pangilinan, Panlilio, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios and SBP deputy executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio. President Duterte was with executive secretary Salvador Medialdea, special assistant to the president Bong Go and PSC chairman Butch Ramirez.

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The President expressed support for the bid and told the Commission he hopes to watch the games himself. The President mentioned that Filipinos love basketball with a passion and said hosting the World Cup will rally the entire nation behind Gilas. Ramirez said the PSC is ready to support milestone projects such as the World Cup because it’s a unifying event with a positive impact on tourism and sports.

“It was MVP’s idea to form a consortium which has been described as a compelling proposition,” said Panlilio. “Mr. Weiss told the President that MVP, as a FIBA Central Board member, is well-respected in the basketball world and when he speaks, everybody listens. The idea of a multi-nation bid was copied by Argentina and Uruguay. It’s a very exciting concept that connects with FIBA’s goal of expanding boundaries globally. The bid bonds three nations in reaching out to a total population of nearly 500 million. Basketball is by far the No. 1 sport in the Philippines but it’s No. 2 or No. 3 in Indonesia and Japan. This bid focuses on building a wide youth basketball base in Indonesia and Japan. It’s an innovative strategy to unite fans of diverse backgrounds from three different countries through their love of basketball.”

Pangilinan briefed the President on the Commission’s visit and promised to “do our best” in winning the bid. Yesterday morning, the Commission went to PICC for an ocular inspection as a possible site for the FIBA World Congress to be held before the World Cup. It went to the Smart Araneta Coliseum for an inspection in the afternoon. Last night, the Commission was feted at a welcome dinner with government officials at China Blue in the Conrad Hotel.

This morning, the Commission will visit the Philippine and the MOA Arenas before the bid presentation tonight. The topics that the Commission will discuss and review with the SBP during the visit include the bid’s vision and concept (including legacy, culture, education and sports development), competition schedule and proposed dates, experience in hosting events, commercial offer, venues, accommodations, transportation, security, marketing, sponsorship, brand protection, legal and regulatory matters, medical services and doping control, the staging of the FIBA World Congress, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility programs, organization of the local committee, budget, government support, host nation agreement, guarantees and special terms.

The other bidders are Russia, Argentina and Uruguay in a combined effort and Turkey. The FIBA Central Board will announce the winning bidder on Dec. 9.

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