Top FIBA execs coming for inspection

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A four-man committee formed by FIBA to evaluate the bids of six countries vying for the hosting rights of the 2019 World Cup is arriving here on Monday to assess the Philippines’ capability to stage the event that will be expanded to involve a record 32 nations with a two-year qualifying period.

The evaluation committee is composed of FIBA Oceania president and FIBA Central Board member Burton Shipley of New Zealand, FIBA director general of media and marketing services Frank Leenders of the Netherlands, FIBA director of events and former Yugoslavian national basketball player Predrag Bogosavljev of Serbia and FIBA consultant and long-time ambassador of quality officiating Lubomir Kotleba of Slovakia.

FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann will plane in on Thursday, confer with the evaluation committee, meet with SBP officials and attend a top-level dinner hosted by Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. The exclusive dinner will involve only 20 guests, including the FIBA visitors, PLDT chairman/SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan, Maynilad president/SBP vice chairman Ricky Vargas, Meralco senior vice president/MVP Sports Foundation president Al Panlilio, Maynilad senior vice president/PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio and SBP executive director Sonny Barrios. Baumann and the four-man committee will leave Manila on Friday.

Barrios has represented the SBP in meetings and workshops conducted by FIBA for bidding countries in Madrid and Geneva. The bidders are China, Germany, France, Turkey, Qatar and the Philippines. The final bid files will be submitted to FIBA by April 30 and the FIBA Central Board will decide on the host during its meeting on June 18-19 in Geneva. FIBA has set the minimum bid at 8 Million Euros or the equivalent of about P400 Million.

The FIBA team is coming to inspect the facilities proposed to be mobilized for the World Cup by the SBP. Barrios said the plan is to employ five playing venues and at least 10 hotels. “We want to impress on our visitors that not only are we competent in staging the event with our resources, facilities and the entire country behind this effort but also that we love the game with a passion, that we can fill up the arenas with crowds never before seen in the FIBA World Cup,” said Barrios. “We think our ace is our love for basketball, our No. 1 sport. We also want to show our world-renowned Filipino hospitality and the solidarity with government in making sure the event will be a huge success. We’ve proved our organizational skills with the successful staging of the FIBA Asia Championships and Pope Francis’ recent visit. Our objective is to sweep our FIBA visitors off their feet.”

No doubt, the FIBA visitors are high-powered. Baumann, 47, has been FIBA secretary-general since 2003 and a member of the International Olympic Committee since 2007. He has a law degree from the University of Lausanne, a Master’s degree in Sport Administration Management from the University of Lyon and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago. Baumann speaks five languages.

Shipley, a 6-4 former basketball player, has been involved in the administration of the sport since becoming chairman of the National Basketball League in 1999. He has a rich background as a farmer, lobbyist and financial advisor. His wife Jenny served as New Zealand Prime Minister from 1997 to 1999. Kotleba retired as FIBA sports director last year but remains active as an adviser. He was in Manila in 2008 to conduct a seminar for referees. A well-loved global envoy of basketball, Kotleba speaks eight languages.

Bogosavljev was a player for 24 years and saw action with the Yugoslavian national team in 1982-85. He has a Master’s degree in Sport Management and was secretary-general of the Serbian and Yugoslavian basketball federations before joining FIBA in 2006. Bogosavljev’s credits include supervising the European Cup, EuroBasket and Belgrade Cup. He speaks three languages. Leenders has worked in the field of sports marketing for over 20 years with participation in the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League. He was formerly director for sports rights acquisitions with Television Sky Italia. Leenders has an economics degree and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. He speaks four languages.

Barrios said the SBP has tapped DDB Group Philippines, part of the global advertising giant DDB Worldwide owned by the New York-based Omnicom Group, and Sydney-based entertainment/lifestyle management company Octagon Asia Pacific to assist in the production of the bid files. Octagon Asia Pacific is a subsidiary of the Connecticut-based Octagon Group which represents high-profile athletes like Stephen Curry, Rudy Gay and David Robinson. Octagon Asia Pacific president Sean Nicholls was with the Philippine delegation that attended the FIBA bid workshop in Geneva last December and will join the SBP in hosting the FIBA visitors this week. DDB Group Philippines president Gil Chua and consultant Tony Samson are throwing their full support behind the country’s bid.

“The FIBA visit is principally an ocular inspection trip,” said Barrios. “We’ll bring our guests to the Philippine Arena, Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena. They’ll also be given a presentation by the Solaire Group on the Solaire Arena and by the SM Group on the SM Cebu Arena. Both the Solaire and SM Cebu Arenas will have a capacity of 16,000. FIBA requires a minimum seating capacity of 8,000 for preliminary games and 16,000 for the playoffs or the quarterfinals, semifinals and final. FIBA also requires all venues to be completed a year before the World Cup so we’ve been assured that the Solaire and SM Cebu Arenas will be finished by 2018. We’ll be taking our guests to Cebu so they can see the site of the SM Cebu Arena. The visitors will be staying at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel and we’ll also be taking them to EDSA Shangri-La Hotel and Sofitel Hotel for inspection of their facilities.”

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