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SBP assures FIBA no kinks in 2023
Sonny Barrios

SBP assures FIBA no kinks in 2023

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said yesterday the Philippines’ joint bid with Indonesia to host the 2023 FIBA World Cup comes with an assurance that traffic won’t be a problem in clearing all roads for the final which is planned for the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

The SBP submitted an accomplished form as a pre-qualifying requirement to bid for the hosting rights last Wednesday. Barrios said a covering letter indicated that the Philippines’ bid is in collaboration with Indonesia. Both the Philippines and Indonesia are represented in the FIBA Central Board which has 24 members, including president Horacio Muratore of Argentina and secretary-general Patrick Baumann of Switzerland. 

The Asia/Oceania members in the FIBA Central Board are SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan of the Philippines, SEABA president Erick Thohir of Indonesia, Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al-Thani of Qatar, Scott Derwin of Australia and Burton Shipley of New Zealand. In the new configuration of FIBA zones, Asia and Oceania will be combined to be represented by seven qualifiers for the 32-team 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Barrios said he anticipates a concern over the traffic conditions in Metro Manila leading to the Philippine Arena. “We’ve assured FIBA that there is infrastructure in the pipeline to address the traffic problem,” he said. “For instance, by 2023, we expect an exit from the North Luzon Expressway directly to the Philippine Arena. There are other infrastructure plans we expect to be operational by 2023. Of course, we’ll remind FIBA that NLEX is managed by the MVP Group. Aside from infrastructure, we also told FIBA that as in the previous FIBA competitions we’ve hosted, we will provide motorcycle escorts for the team buses and FIBA officials. We will be coordinating closely with local government units to clear routes. So we don’t expect traffic to be a problem at all.”

Barrios said he’s not aware how many countries submitted bids. But 13 countries had expressed interest in hosting the 2023 edition – Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Qatar. The candidates will be announced by FIBA next month. An evaluation commission will be set up by FIBA to conduct inspection visits of the bidding countries.

When the Philippines bid for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, a three-man evaluation commission made a five-day visit to assess the SBP’s capability to organize the conclave. The commission was made up of Lubomir Kotleba of Slovakia, Predrag Bogosavljev of Serbia and Frank Leeders of the Netherlands. Shipley was the commission chairman but could not make the inspection trip on doctors’ orders because of a strained back.

“After FIBA announces the candidates, inspection visits will be scheduled,” said Barrios. “We’ve gone through the process twice over so we’re familiar with FIBA’s strict standards. Aside from the 2019 World Cup, we also made a bid to host one of three FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments last year. We won the bid for the OQT which we staged successfully. FIBA will decide the 2023 host by November or December this year.”

 Barrios said the Philippines lost the vote to China, 14-7, for the 2019 FIBA World Cup because it came down to budgets. China simply offered a lot more money than the Philippines. But in terms of the vision expressed in the presentations of both finalists in Tokyo in 2015, the Philippines was the hands-down choice. “Even Yao Ming admitted the Philippines had the better presentation,” said Barrios. “In fact, he walked up to Lou Diamond Philips, who was our lead presenter, and congratulated him for an excellent job.  What we lacked in resources in our bid for 2019, we will be able to cover in our bid for 2023 with Indonesia.”

The Philippines has a big chance of making it to the 2019 FIBA World Cup as one of seven Asia/Oceania qualifiers aside from host China. But in 2023, the SBP hopes it won’t only participate as a qualifier but also as a host. Europe staged the World Cup back-to-back with Turkey in 2010 and Spain in 2014 so even as China will be the site for the next tournament, it won’t preclude the possibility of another Asian country winning the 2023 bid. The Philippines missed out by four votes to host the 2019 conclave.  Another attempt to bid may turn out to be the clincher the second time around for 2023.

 Qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup will go through a new process. First, the Philippines has to top the SEABA Championships to be held in April as only the winner will be awarded the right to represent Southeast Asia at the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut on Aug. 17-27. SBP president Al Panlilio said Manila will bid to host the SEABA tournament. Then, assuming the Philippines wins the SEABA title, it must finish among the top 14 of the 16-team FIBA Asia Cup. If the Philippines winds up in the first 14, it will figure in a home-and-away series starting November. There will be six home-and-away windows to determine the seven qualifiers from Asia/Oceania for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

FIBA executive director for Asia Hagop Khajirian said it will be the first time in history that Australia and New Zealand will compete with Asian teams in the run-up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup. He said their participation “adds a new level to the depth of the competitions (as) events (will) become more attractive to fans” in Asia and Oceania.

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