FIBA to decide qualifier hosts today

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The nine-man FIBA Executive Committee, headed by president Horacio Muratore of Argentina and secretary-general Patrick Baumann of Switzerland, will convene in Mies, near Geneva, today to decide among six bidders the countries to host three Olympic qualifying tournaments set on July 4-10.

From an initial list of 15 interested countries, the candidates were trimmed to 10 and finally, six. The Philippines, Iran and Japan were in the initial list. From Asia, only the Philippines has remained in contention and joins the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Serbia and Turkey among the remaining bidders.

“There will be no presentation of the bids so no country is invited for the Executive Committee meeting,” said FIBA director of communications Patrick Koller. “There are still the same amount of bidders, six for the men, two for the women, and they have all complied with the bid requirements.”

The Philippines turned in the entry fee of 20,000 Euros or the equivalent of P1.05 million as early as last October with the original deadline of candidature compliance on Nov. 11. It was initially announced that the Executive Committee would meet and decide the three hosts on Nov. 23. FIBA later extended the bid deadline to Jan. 11 with the announcement of the winning bids moved to today.

The Executive Committee is made up of Muratore, Baumann, treasurer Ingo Weiss of Germany and members Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, Turgay Demirel of Turkey, Harmane Niang of Mali, Jose Luis Saez of Spain, Burton Shipley of New Zealand and Mark Tatum of the US. Muratore, 64, was elected president during the FIBA World Congress in Seville, Spain, in 2014. His term will be up to 2019. Muratore, who was an accountant and professor for 16 years, joined the Executive Committee in 2002 and was FIBA vice president in 2010-14. He was a former FIBA Americas president.

Baumann, 48, finished law at the University of Lausanne and holds a Master’s degree in Sports Administration Management from the IOC and University of Lyon and a Master’s degree in Business Management from the University of Chicago. A former player and referee, Baumann joined FIBA in 1994 and was appointed deputy secretary-general in 1995 to assist Borislav Stankovic. In 2003, Baumann was named secretary-general. In 2007, he became an IOC member and was involved in the Evaluation Commissions for the Beijing and London Olympics. Baumann, who is fluent in five languages, is a member of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport.

SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan said the Philippines has “a reasonable chance” of hosting the Olympic qualifying tournament, “being the only Asian country to bid.” He added, “my guess is that FIBA would like to see Asia as one of the three zones mainly because Asia is a huge potential for basketball.”

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios declined to place odds on whether or not the Philippines would make it. “We’ve complied with all the bid requirements,” he said. “We’ve proved ourselves more than capable to organize an international tournament of 16 teams with the success of hosting the FIBA Asia Championships in 2013. If given the chance, we want to give the five foreign countries coming to play in the Olympic qualifiers a wonderful experience. We’ll be ready to roll out the red carpet and show the world what Filipino hospitality is all about.”

The Olympic qualifying system was institutionalized by FIBA in 2008 with 12 teams vying for the last three Olympic tickets. The second and third placers of the FIBA Asia Championships were among the 12 teams. The Olympic qualifying tournament is the last chance for countries to make it to the Olympics after failing to book tickets from the five continental or zonal championships in Europe, Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. In the 2008 tournament in Athens, the three teams that made it to the Olympics were Greece, Croatia and Germany. In 2012, the tournament was staged in Caracas with FIBA Asia’s Lebanon and South Korea among the 12 countries that participated. The three that advanced to the Olympics were Russia, Lithuania and Nigeria. This year, the Olympic qualifying format is totally different from ever before.

Before the 2008 event, FIBA held six Olympic qualifying tournaments – in Bologna in 1960 with 18 teams, in Yokohama in 1964 with 10, in Monterrey in 1968 with five, in Augsburg in 1972 with 13, in Hamilton in 1976 with six and in five Spanish cities in 1992 with 25. Different formats were employed in the qualifiers. 

The Philippines has participated in only one Olympic qualifier in 1964. There were 10 countries seeking three slots for the Tokyo Olympics. The Philippines finished sixth with a lineup that included Turo Valenzona, Big Boy Reynoso, Ciso Bernardo, Manny Jocson, Elias Tolentino, Sonny Reyes, Felix Flores and Ed Ocampo. The top three placers went to Tokyo, namely, Mexico, Australia and Canada. The Philippines was competitive in losing to the three Tokyo qualifiers, yielding to Mexico, 90-85, Australia, 71-69 and Canada, 68-64.

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