Manny V. Pangilinan sees long-term FIBA partnership
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2015 - 10:00am

TOKYO – SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan was downcast after the Philippines lost a passionate bid to host the FIBA 2019 World Cup on a 14-7 vote for China here last Friday but shrugged off the disappointment to look forward to a long-term partnership with the Swiss-based international governing body for basketball.

The day after the vote was announced, Pangilinan attended a FIBA Central Board meeting and actively participated in the discussions that went from morning to afternoon. The Board presented Pangilinan a pewter dish symbolic of FIBA’s appreciation of the Philippine effort in the bidding process for the hosting rights to what will be the biggest World Cup ever with 32 countries.

Only four Asians are in the 26-strong Board, namely, Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al Thani of Qatar, Xiao Tian of China, Erick Thohir of Indonesia and Pangilinan. FIBA president Horacio Muratore of Argentina, secretary-general Patrick Baumann of Switzerland and treasurer Ingo Weiss of Germany are the principal Board officers. Only three members were appointed to the Board – Pangilinan, Thohir and Julia Anikeeva of Russia – while the others were elected. Pangilinan’s appointment was in recognition of the Philippines’ increasing role in FIBA’s global affairs as he wasn’t a candidate in the elections.

Xiao was conspicuously absent in the panel that presented China’s bid. The Chinese vice minister of sports was elected FIBA vice president last September and is under investigation for alleged corruption by the government’s Central Commission on Discipline Inspection. His wife Tian Ye, deputy secretary of the Chinese Equestrian Association, is also under investigation.

Pangilinan said while he was sad that the Philippines lost the bid, he is heartened that FIBA saw the Filipinos’ passion for basketball, “of what we can do, what we are capable of doing.” Secretary of Tourism Ramon Jimenez, who joined Pangilinan in a closed-door, question-and-answer session with the Central Board before the voting took place, was optimistic that “something positive” will come out of the Philippines’ spirited bid.

“I attended the Central Board meeting the whole day,” said Pangilinan, referring to Saturday’s assembly. “I was given a pewter dish with appreciation of FIBA inscribed on it and asked to say a few words. I simply thanked the Board for listening and considering our presentation and thanked them also for the gift. They were solicitous and friendly. I participated actively in the discussion to show we’re a good sport but my demeanor was one of sadness.”

Pangilinan said while disappointed with the decision, he wanted to demonstrate there were no hard feelings. The national cause is greater than any personal emotion and a long-term partnership with FIBA is what’s important, he added. “I accept our defeat,” said Pangilinan. “We can’t change the decision anyway. Let’s just move on.”

Pangilinan thanked the entire Filipino nation for supporting the bold bid to beat a giant in a battle where Goliath ended up overpowering David. TV5 Sports head Chot Reyes said a survey revealed that 96 percent of Filipinos backed the bid and 80 percent of Filipino sports fans consider themselves to be serious basketball aficionados. Pangilinan expressed gratitude to President Aquino who endorsed the bid by signing a letter of government support.

Pangilinan, Reyes, former Gilas skipper Jimmy Alapag and Fil-Am celebrity Lou Diamond Phillips spoke during the Philippines’ audio-visual presentation that preceded the voting. They delivered an inspiring message of hope for the underdog, spoke about the Filipinos’ obsession with basketball and justified the country’s ability to host the World Cup behind a social media campaign to resonate the excitement of the game globally and a serious pledge to deliver the infrastructure for a flawless staging.

The Philippine government was represented by high-level Cabinet officials Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Jimenez at the bidding event. Others who flew to Tokyo to support the Philippine bid were Sen. Sonny Angara, Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Rep. Robbie Puno, Rep. Rey Umali, Tourism Promotions Board chief operating officer Domingo Enerio, Mayor Monico Puentevella, Dr. Benjie Alimurung, Maynilad president Ricky Vargas, Meralco senior vice president Al Panlilio, Metro Pacific Tollways president Ramoncito Fernandez, Mike Toledo, Benjie Paras, Kobe Paras, PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio, PBA president Chito Salud, PBA media affairs bureau chief Willie Marcial, Gelo Serrano, Kia’s Eric Pineda, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, SBP deputy executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio, SBP senior consultant Moying Martelino, Gil Chua, Abet Dungo, Dr. Raffy Bejar, John Lucas, Andrew Teh and bid project lead Patricia Hizon. PBA legend Freddie Webb, who was in town on a family trip, attended the audio-visual presentations to show his support.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez provided full Embassy backing, attended the presentations and hosted a dinner for the Philippine delegation after the bidding event last Friday.

“Our FIBA World Cup bid was a disappointing result for all of us,” said Alapag. “But nonetheless, I’m still incredibly proud of how we represented the country and the sport. I think FIBA got an even clearer picture of the love and passion we have for the game in the Philippines. In due time, we’ll get there. To everyone who sent their love, support and prayers, it was all deeply appreciated. Hope we made every Filipino proud of the way we presented not just Philippine basketball but the beauty of our country. PUSO!”

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