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MVP cites improved features of bid

SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan File

MANILA, Philippines — SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan said the other day the Philippine bid to host the 2023 FIBA World Cup with Japan and Indonesia is an improved version of the tender that was made for the 2019 edition as he expressed high hopes of success the second time around.

In 2015, the Philippines made a solo bid to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup and Fil-Am actor Lou Diamond Phillips was tapped to lead a panel of speakers during the formal presentation in Tokyo. Despite a solid audio-visual, the Philippines lost to China, 14-7, in the FIBA Central Board vote to decide the winning bid. Even NBA star Yao Ming, who spoke in China’s behalf, acknowledged the Philippines’ heart-tugging presentation but in the end, what tilted the balance was China’s offer of eight stadiums in eight cities with five-star amenities.

Pangilinan conceived the idea of a multi-nation bid to address the issue that led to the Philippines’ failure in the bid for the 2019 World Cup. With the consortium, the combined resources of the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia make for a formidable bid not only in terms of facilities but also in the context of an expanded growth market with a total population of close to 500 million.

Jakarta Vice Governor Sandi Uno was quoted as saying the consortium has in mind FIBA’s goal of growing basketball from a global perspective. In Indonesia, for example, basketball isn’t the No. 1 sport, unlike in the Philippines, but recent demographic studies show that the game is widely popular in the age level of 28 years and below. Uno said bringing the World Cup to Indonesia will generate unprecedented interest in the sport and galvanize a stronger fan base among the youth.

Pangilinan said the Filipinos’ deep love for basketball is the anchor of the consortium’s bid with the quarterfinals, semifinals and final to be held in the Philippines but the involvement of Japan and Indonesia in the preliminaries, where they will each host eight teams, solidifies the proposal. He said the feedback from the three-man FIBA Evaluation Commission that recently visited Manila for four days was positive and encouraging. It will come down to how the FIBA Central Board votes in a meeting in Mies, Switzerland, on Dec. 9.

The FIBA Central Board has 27 members. The members from countries bidding to host the 2023 World Cup will not participate in the poll. That will strike out six votes from Turkey’s Turgay Demirel, Argentina’s Horacio Muratore who is the FIBA president, Russia’s Andrei Kirilenko, Indonesia’s Erick Thohir, Japan’s Yuko Mitsuya and Pangilinan. The bidding countries are Turkey, Russia, Argentina and Uruguay in a joint effort and the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan in a consortium. With six votes out, it will take at least 11 to clinch the majority of the remaining 21 voters.

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SBP executive director Sonny Barrios accompanied the FIBA Evaluation Commission in inspection tours of the Smart Araneta Coliseum, MOA Arena and Philippine Arena last week. The tour also included the PICC, proposed site of the FIBA World Congress scheduled before the start of the competitions. The Commission made up of FIBA Central Board members Hamane Niang of Mali and Ingo Weiss of Germany and FIBA senior consultant Lubomir Kotleba of Slovakia gave high marks for the MOA and Philippine Arena but had structural concerns on the Big Dome. The Commission suggested an alternative door for the second dugout on each side of the corridor leading to the hardcourt, distinct entrance and exit access for players and media, a pathway from Novotel direct to the dressing rooms and an expanded working area for media.

Smart pays Araneta P50 million a year for naming rights and that should cover for whatever alterations are necessary to conform to FIBA standards. But if Araneta isn’t agreeable, the SBP will be prepared to stage the World Cup games exclusively at the Philippine and MOA Arenas.

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