By JONAS TERRADO
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas promised to provide world-class experience for participating teams and fans from here and abroad should the country gain the right to co-host the FIBA World Cup in 2023.
SBP officials led by its chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and president Al Panlilio made this assurance Saturday night during a bid presentation held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City before high-ranking FIBA officials who had been in the country since midweek to inspect the possible venues for the 2023 competition.
After losing to China in the hosting rights for the 2019 World Cup, the SBP is joining forces with Japan and Indonesia in hopes of getting the 2023 edition. Under the arrangement, Manila will host 16 teams for the group stage and the finals while Okinawa and Jakarta will gather the other 16 participants.
The Smart Araneta Coliseum is being eyed by the SBP as the host of the Manila leg – the same venue where the 1978 World Championship was held that saw Yugoslavia beating Soviet Union for the crown.
Though the bid faces several stumbling blocks such as infrastructure and traffic concerns, Pangilinan expressed hope that it can pass the high standards of basketball’s world governing body.
“A little over two years ago, I stood in the similar stage in Tokyo, shared with FIBA our belief that the Philippines would be a better host for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. That belief remains as strong as ever,” Pangilinan said during the presentation.
Local governments official led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea seconded President Duterte’s orders to extend whatever support it can to not only win the bid but also provide a smooth hosting of the 2023 tourney.
The Chief Executive had met with FIBA officials in a courtesy call Friday in Malacañang.
Challenging Manila, Okinawa and Jakarta are Russia, Turkey and a similar joint bid by Argentina and Uruguay.