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Sports

SBP leads 3-nation WC bid

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said the other day the details of the three nation bid involving the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan will soon be ironed out as the FIBA Central Board is expected to announce the host for the 2023 World Cup before the year ends.

Barrios said the SBP has reached out to Japan Basketball Association press contact Kenta Kawashima through deputy executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio in the first step to work on a concerted plan for the unprecedented bid. In 17 FIBA World Cups since 1950, host countries have been alone in staging the event. Two Asian nations have held the World Cup so far – the Philippines in 1978 and Japan in 2006.  China will take its turn in 2019.

Barrios said the Philippines, as the lead country in the bid, will stage the final and at least one semifinal if the hosting rights are awarded to the three Asian nations for 2023. Indonesia will pose no objection to the Philippines hosting the final and both semifinals but Japan may want to stage at least one semifinal.

“We understand Japan is open to the proposal of joining the bid,” said Barrios.  “But we haven’t sat down with Japan at the moment to discuss details.  As for Indonesia, Mr. Erick Thohir (a FIBA Central Board member like SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan) will definitely join us.  Mr. Thohir knows about the Filipinos’ passion for basketball so he understands why the Philippines will want to host the semifinals and final.  If the sport was football, not basketball, then it will be a different story because football is No. 1 in Indonesia.  We’ll try to look at options to meet every country’s objectives.  For instance, in exchange for a semifinal game, we could situate the US in a country during the group stage.  At the moment, everything is still up in the air.  But we understand that the FIBA Central Board will meet late this year to decide on the host for 2023.”

Barrios said the Central Board will convene in Hong Kong for a meeting on May 3 before FIBA holds its mid-term Congress, also in Hong Kong, on May 4-5.  Delegates from over 200 countries are expected to attend the Congress which will take up reports from the Executive Committee and Central Board on a wide range of issues including the 2017 competition calendar, the implementation of the new World Cup and Olympic qualifying system, the progress of 3x3 and the International Basketball Foundation. The venue for the event is the Kowloon Shangri-La. 

“Mr. Pangilinan will play a big role in assuring the success of the Hong Kong meetings,” said Barrios.  “There will be no discussions on the bids for the 2023 World Cup.  The Congress will update the member countries of the progress of FIBA’s initiatives.”

Barrios said he expects Gilas head coach Chot Reyes to name the pool of 15 shortly.  “Chot has a free rein,” he said.  “Obviously, he’ll need to consult the SBP and PBA on the composition of the pool before it is made public.  At the recent three-day training camp in Splendido, it was unfortunate that Art de la Cruz came down with an injury.  He was by himself when he hurt his Achilles.  It was unforeseen.  Of course, Gilas will take care of the cost of treating Art.  There were players who couldn’t make it like JuneMar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar as they were still on break after playing in the last PBA finals.  We’re excited to get the pool together.”

Barrios said the participation of the San Miguel group is critical in assuring Gilas’ success.  “We know about (San Miguel Corp. president) Mr. (Ramon) Ang’s passion for the game and love of country,” said Barrios.  “We saw that when he came to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament not only to cheer for the San Miguel players but for the entire national team.  His support is vital for Gilas’ success particularly as only the winner of the SEABA Championships will represent Southeast Asia at the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut in August.”

SONNY BARRIOS

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