by TITO S. TALAO
Manila, Philippines – JAPAN, I understand, has thrown its hat into the bidding derby for the hosting of the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship tournament.
How could that be? Is FIBA-Asia even remotely considering any country’s sales pitch other than Qatar, Lebanon, Iran and the Philippines?
Ever since hosting hostilities broke out last year, it had been these four nations that have jostled each other from the starting gate.
No mention of China, no Chinese-Taipei, and definitely, no Japan.
Then all of a sudden, Japan, which has already hosted a couple of Asian basketball tournaments these past few months, and is set to welcome next month the Boris Stankovic Cup which Chot Reyes’ Smart Gilas II team will be competing in, appears to have pulled abreast of the frontrunners.
Word is Qatar, the early pacesetter, has begun to lose steam and enthusiasm for whatever reason, while the unrest in the Middle East region, brought on the by long running civil war in Syria, could dampen interest in Iran and Lebanon, the country from where FIBA Asia secretary-general Hagop Khajirian comes from.
In that eventuality, the Philippines, under the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and its chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, should be the only logical choice left for that singular if expensive honor.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case now although a recent visit by Hagop to inspect the SM-MOA Arena on the invitation of Pangilinan appears to have yielded positive results.
“He seems to be impressed with the world-class facility,“ said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, who will make a formal presentation of the country’s bid to host the qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, next month.
Barrios and SBP consultant and former ABC secretary-general Moying Martelino will leave for Tokyo to meet with the FIBA Asia executive board and hopefully close the deal.
That would the be the lions’ den for the two SBP officials.
Smart-Gilas II, currently campaigning in the Jones Cup, is eying one of three Asian slots to the World Cup.
“Mr. Hagop has even wished us good luck,“ said Barrios.
Hope he didn’t do the same with SBP’s Japanese counterpart.
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