FIBA rates Phl bid ‘highly competitive’

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann and a three-man FIBA evaluation committee led by Lubomir Kotleba leave Manila this afternoon after a thorough inspection visit and discussions with SBP and government officials in relation to the country’s bid to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Kotleba, a long-time FIBA ambassador of quality officiating and a former FIBA referee who has worked two finals in three Olympics, described the Philippine bid as “highly competitive.” The evaluation committee arrived here last Monday and checked out the facilities proposed by the SBP to employ for the 2019 tournament. The committee also took a day trip to Cebu to look over the site where the SM Cebu Arena will rise. The committee is composed of Kotleba, FIBA director general of media and marketing services Frank Leenders and FIBA director of events Predrag Bogosavljev.

Baumann flew in yesterday to confer with the committee and SBP officials. This morning, a presentation will be made by the SBP to Baumann and the committee to assure the support of PLDT for telecommunications, Meralco for power, Maynilad for water and Metro Pacific Tollways for road access in providing the necessary resources for the staging of the World Cup. Later this morning, Baumann and the committee will address the media in a conference.

The other night, PLDT chairman/SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan hosted a dinner for the committee with major basketball stakeholders at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. Among the attendees were Sen. Sonny Angara, Rep. Robbie Puno, Rep. Anthony del Rosario, Mayor Oscar Moreno of Cagayan de Oro, Mayor Monico Puentevella of Bacolod, PNP senior superintendent and chief of police community relations Carlos de Sagun, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino, GAB commissioner Aquil Tamano, Fr. Paul de Vera of San Beda College, BEST founder Nic Jorge, former PBA player and Zamboanga SBP director Pedro Alfaro, Maynilad president/SBP vice chairman Ricky Vargas, Maynilad senior vice president/PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio, Meralco president Oscar Reyes, Meralco senior vice president/MVP Sports Foundation president Al Panlilio, TV5 president Noel Lorenzana, TV5 Sports head/MVP Sports Foundation executive director Chot Reyes, Metro Pacific Tollways president Ramoncito Fernandez, NLEX president Rod Franco, PLDT executive vice president/PLDT Home head Ariel Fermin, PSC commissioner Iggy Clavecilla, POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros, Alaska team manager Dickie Bachmann, Ever Bilena chairman/Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy, Blackwater PBA governor Silliman Sy, Blackwater PBA alternate governor Wilbert Loa, Ricky Palou of Ateneo, Nongnong Calanog of La Salle, Atty. Paul Gueco, Dr. Raffy Bejar and MVP executive assistant Abet Dungo.

Called on to speak during the gathering of over 100 guests, Kotleba explained that FIBA is embarking on a new era of change leading to a revised concept for the 2019 World Cup. He said the FIBA World Cup will lead to direct qualification for the 2020 Olympics. Kotleba mentioned the importance of the entire country backing the bid to host the World Cup and said “together, you can make the bid as good as possible with 90 million people devoted to basketball and a great leadership.”

Kotleba said he is aware that the Philippines has hosted several FIBA events in the past, including the 1978 World Cup, 2011 FIBA Asia Champions Cup and the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships. He applauded the SBP’s efforts to bring the World Cup back to the Philippines and its plans to set a new record in attendance. The Philippines is the first country to be visited by the evaluation committee. Other bidders are China, Qatar, Turkey and jointly, Germany and France.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said the key is to project national solidarity behind the bid. “This isn’t the SBP’s bid, this is the entire country’s bid,” said Barrios. “We need the full cooperation of the public and private sectors in getting the job done. No country among the bidders has a heart for basketball like ours. It’s our passion for the game that sets us apart.”

Reyes, the former Gilas national coach, said it was pure heart that brought the Philippines back to the World Cup in Spain after a 36-year absence. Pangilinan remarked that after the SBP’s formation, Baumann mentioned that it probably wouldn’t be until 2016 before the Philippines returns to the global stage. “We made it two years in advance,” he said.

The SBP proposal is to use five playing venues – the Philippine Arena, Smart Araneta Coliseum, Mall of Asia Arena and the to-be-constructed Solaire Arena and SM Cebu Arena. “It’s not taken against us that two of our proposed venues are still to be built,” said Barrios. “Even in the Olympic bids, facilities are not all immediately available. Bids are awarded based on plans and the confidence that the plans will be carried out. In our case, there’s no doubt of the capability of the Solaire and SM Groups. Besides, a default will mean a huge penalty. I think the evaluation committee is confident that the proposed venues will be finished by 2018 as it’s a requirement for all facilities to be ready a year before the World Cup.”

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