SBP steps up bid to host 2019 FIBA World Cup
Alder Almo (The Philippine Star) - November 1, 2014 - 2:33am

MANILA, Philippines -- The country's bid to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup will go through a cut-throat competition but Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) believes that they have a fighting chance.

"Infrastracture-wise, lamang ang mga kalaban natin eh so that's a big a challenge for us. But if you ask me what will make FIBA choose us is 'yung hospitality natin at siyempre yung passion natin sa basketball iba eh," SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said during the Online Media Group Forum on Friday at the Country Spice Restaurant along Sgt. Esguerra in Quezon City.

Barrios said that the FIBA always cites Phl as a model country to its other members.

"Na-impress sila sa pag-host natin sa FIBA Asia," Barrios said.

"Yung human wave natin sa MOA, hangang-hanga sila dahil hindi pa sila nakakita ng ganun. After the FIBA Asia, they came to understand why we are a basketball-crazy nation," Barrios added.

It didn't stop there as the country impressed them more with Gilas' gutsy showing in the FIBA World Cup and the Filipino crowd who came from all over the world.

"Nung tinalo natin yung Senegal which is already a non-bearing game eh sabi nga ng mga FIBA officials eh parang ganito: gayahin nila dapat ang Pilipinas. Nagpapakamatay sa laro. Kung ganyan lahat ng mga teams eh the FIBA tournaments will all be successful," Barrios said.

The country's bid will meet stiff opposition against China, Turkey, France & Germany, Eastern bloc of Europe led by Lithuania, Russia, Mexico and Brazil whom Barrios mentioned as present during the observation tour in Madrid.

Barrios bared that SBP has already submitted the requirements and will have to wait until the end of November if the country makes it to the short list of candidates.

"They gave a questionnaire, which is the deadline is today and that includes 50,000 euro fee which is around Php 3 million," Barrios said.

"Sabi ng presidente (Manny V. Pangilinan) natin, mag-enroll tayo. If we don't win, it's part of the learning process," Barrios added.

The SBP executive director along with executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio and logistics head Andrew Teh attended the two-day observation tour in Madrid, which included watching the FIBA World Cup Finals that cost the SBP 20,000 euros or roughly Php 1.4 million. It was a pre-requisite for all the countries that are interested in hosting the next world championships.

During the observation tour, it was explained to them that the next FIBA World Cup will be much bigger and different than in Spain.

"There will be 32 teams sa 2019 at may classification round so meaning the 16 eliminated teams after the first phase ay maglalaro pa rin. Unlike this year, after natin ma-eliminate wala na tayong laro," Barrios explained. "It's a 16-day event, so mas maraming laro unlike sa Spain."

SBP is confident that the country will meet the infrastracture requirements between now and 2019.

"The SM group will build an arena in Cebu while Solaire group will also build another one malapit sa area nila. In fact they want to meet with us to consult with the FIBA requirements," Barrios said.

Aside from the two, SBP is looking at the Mall of Asia Arena, Smart-Araneta Coliseum and the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bulacan as possible venues.

"Ang required lang na venue ng FIBA is five: four for the eliminations then another venue for the playoffs pero nung tinanong ko kung puwede yung finals eh laruin in one of the four venues eh puwede rin naman daw," Barrios said.

"Then biglang nagtanong ang mga taga-China na nasa likod ko kung puwedeng walong venues daw," added Barrios illustrating how tough the competition is for the rights to host the next World Cup that comes with an automatic slot.

Barrios is optimistic that the country will make it to the short list.

If not, Gilas will have to fight for one of the seven slots that will be given to Asia in the modified home-and-away qualifiers which will also include powerhouse teams New Zealand and Australia.

"We voted for the merger of the tournaments for FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania dahil madadagdagan ng extra two slots aside from the original five lang sana for Asia," Barrios said. 

ANDREW TEH BARRIOS BUTCH ANTONIO COUNTRY COUNTRY SPICE RESTAURANT FIBA MALL OF ASIA ARENA MANNY V NATIN WORLD CUP
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