SBP prepares for 2023 World Cup

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
SBP prepares for 2023 World Cup
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios (second from left) with John Lucas, Cito Martelino and Xander Gubat studying World Cup operations in China.

FOSHAN – A team of SBP officials led by executive director Sonny Barrios is in town to study the operations of the FIBA World Cup and learn from the organizers to prepare for a smooth transition to the 2023 edition to be held in Manila.

SBP president Al Panlilio has been designated 2023 FIBA World Cup event director of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and attended the recent FIBA Congress in Beijing. Panlilio was here to witness the Italy-Philippines game last Saturday then left for Manila the next day to attend to an urgent family matter. Aside from Barrios, the SBP team is made up of head of operations Cito Martelino, head of the LOC Joint Management Committee John Lucas and executive assistant Xander Gubat.

The team was in Beijing to observe the FIBA Congress proceedings and the World Cup opening ceremonies that featured a light-and-sound show. From Beijing, the team traveled here.

The other day, the SBP team and six representatives from the Smart Araneta Coliseum were given a tour of the Foshan facilities. Six representatives of the Philippine Arena and three from the Mall of Asia Arena will join the observation tour during the playoffs in Beijing. The delegation will get together with officials from the other 2023 FIBA World Cup hosts Japan and Indonesia for a full-scale briefing in Beijing on Sept. 10-15. 

Barrios said SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan’s marching orders are to create a “great experience for the players, coaches, officials and the fans” with the warmth of the Filipino hospitality and the efficiency of staging a world-class competition highlighting the 2023 event. “We face a difficult challenge,” said Barrios. “This year, eight cities are hosting the group phase but in 2023, three countries will host the group phase. As the lead partner, the Philippines will host the quarterfinals, semifinals and final.”

Martelino said his scope of responsibility covers hotel accommodations, playing and practice venues, transportation, logistics, communication facilities, security, media and medical services, including anti-doping testing. FIBA’s operations point man with whom Martelino coordinates is FIBA sport and competitions director Predrag Bogosavljev.

Last April, Martelino, SBP special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio and Gilas team manager Gabby Cui were in China to attend a FIBA-sponsored, pre-World Cup workshop. They went to Beijing, Wuhan and Foshan.

“We’re back in Foshan not as Gilas spectators but as observers of the operations,” said Martelino. “We’re looking at the media press conference set-up, the zoning in the stadium, the location of the TV commentators and media during the games, the flow of transportation from hotel to venue, the access of players, coaches and officials to the locker rooms from the drop-off point and security arrangements.”

Barrios said the SBP team is learning a lot from the Chinese organizers. “From a service perspective, we hope to deliver a World Cup that will be organized and managed efficiently,” he said. “We’ll make it easy for our visitors to enjoy the experience. We’ll mobilize volunteers to guide our visitors every step of the way. Our systems and procedures will be seamlessly done. Our warm hospitality, organizational skills and people efficiency will be the hallmarks of the success of the next World Cup.”

As head of the LOC Joint Management Committee, Lucas is in charge of brand marketing, retail and activities to enhance the World Cup experience. He’s responsible for the opening ceremonies and ancillary events that carry the FIBA World Cup brand.



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