SBP bets on fans as x-factor in FIBA World Cup bid

Alder Almo (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -- Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan relishes the pressure as the FIBA three-man evaluation commission arrived at a conclusion that the country has a strong bid for the 2019 FIBA World Cup hosting.

"In the wrap-up session this morning, it is very clear, that they (FIBA) want to see see a significant improvement in the quality of event. As they said, they are looking for a Quantum leap in the quality of event," Pangilinan said during a press conference held at the Makati Shangri-La on Friday.

FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann and the evaluation commission led by its chairman Lubomir Kotleba were swept off their feet with the Filipinos' passion for the game, which they said were clearly manifested in their presentation and throughout their three-day visit here.

“That ‘Puso’ is not only in the arena. We see the ‘Puso’ wherever we go. We saw that strong emotional dedication from your preparation (for the bid),” said Kotleba, accompanied in his Philippine visit by FIBA director of events Predrag Bogosavlev and media director general Frank Leenders.

Despite having an incomplete infrastructure in place, particularly the venues, the evaluation commission was impressed at how Pangilinan consolidated different sectors - from government agencies to private companies - to make sure that the country will put its best foot forward if they win the bid.

After the three-day evaluation, Pangilinan felt the magnitude of the event they are bidding.

"They said FIBA World Cup is 10 times bigger than FIBA Asia. Minsan nakakatakot. Natatakot din ako eh. Of course, they expect a lot, they require a lot," Pangilinan said.

"Whoever host it, it will pose a lot of obligation dahil sabi nga nila, they want a Quantum Leap from previous world championships," he added.

The evaluation commission already gave their approval on the first three venues although they recommended that Araneta Coliseum particularly the media center and other facilities be upgraded to satisfy the FIBA requirements.

"We need to get down to details and they need assurances that the two venues will be completed," Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, who is also the chairman of the MVP group of companies, already offered help in logistics in terms of power, water, telecommunication and health care. He is confident that the third and fourth venues will meet the deadline and standards set by FIBA.

"Ang sagot ko sa kanila (FIBA) ay matatapos 'yung dalawang venues in time since 'yung dalawang group na kausap natin, Solaire and SM, have financial capabilities to deliver," Pangilinan said.

The Solaire group will put up an arena near their casino hotel while SM group will be building another state-of-the-art similar to MOA Arena in Cebu.

Pangilinan believes that it is a global obligation to deliver one-of-a-kind hosting if ever the country win the bid.

Baumann said FIBA already recognizes Filipinos as passionate basketball fans. It's now up to SBP to convince the FIBA board and let them feel what they've experienced from FIBA Asia to last year's World Cup and their three-day visit here.

"We have a similar situation if you remember at Turkey where venues have to be built and eventually they were built and obviously, they had done an excellent hosting of the world championships in 2010," Baumann said.

Pangilinan strongly feels that the biggest x-factor in country's bid is the country's deeply rooted passion for the game to which Baumann and the evaluation commission quickly agreed.

"The Filipino people, the fans. Yun ang ating kartada," Pangilinan said.

"It’s definitely a big asset. That part, I guess, will be unique among all bidders. Now, it boils down to finalizing the process, making a compelling presentation to get the approval of the board," Baumann said.

The FIBA board, according to Baumann, will be looking basically at how the host country will accompany them to make that Quantum Leap. The country's best bet for that is to convince the FIBA board that it can fill up all the venues and games with passionate fans and make it the most festive world championship games. 

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