OTHER than the Philippines’ passion for basketball, everything else went China’s way in the two country’s bidding for the hosting of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
The Chinese won the hosting rights for basketball's biggest spectacle on Friday after gaining the nod of majority of the FIBA Central Board, 14-7, during the casting of votes done in Tokyo, Japan.
Political analyst and former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) vice chairman JB Baylon told Spin.ph that China became a practical choice for Fiba due to a lot of factors, including economics, population, and infrastructure.
Baylon said he believes the Philippines truly has the edge in terms of passion for the game, being a known basketball-crazy nation. But he insisted that ‘it’s all we can offer against the economy of the rival nation.’
“We’re psychologically and emotionally basketball crazy, we live and breathe basketball. We’re the most basketball-crazy per capita on earth,” said Baylon. “Kaya lang, we have to accept that even sports have geopolitical and economic considerations.”
He cited as example the vast population the East Asian country has.
“Fiba knows the value of favoring China. They have the biggest population in the world. Imagine, kahit ten percent lang manood sa Fiba games sa 2019, that’s already 100 million people, that’s equivalent to the Philippine population already,” said Baylon.
The former national team manager insisted that though the Philippines is the obvious sentimental favorite, China has the edge in terms of government support and infrastructure.
“How many teams will be competing in the World Cup? 32? Imagine 32 huge basketball nations and teams in Metro Manila? How can we handle that? That’s gonna be crazy,” Baylon said.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) was also eyeing to have Cebu and Bacolod to help host the world basketball championship along with Manila had the Philippines won during the bidding.
But that's still no match to China's infrastructure, Baylon said.
“The Chinese already hosted the Olympics and the Asian Games and other major events, eh. For a global sporting competition, mahihirapan talaga tayo mag bid. An Asian competition (sa ngayon) pwede tayo. Pero global competitions, I don’t think we’ll be on top of the choices,” he said.
Baylon noted too, how the world superpower stressed during the bidding presentation the country’s efficient transportation facilities and infrastructure.
“We can’t even address our MRT problems here,” he said.
“In terms of facilities, if they need to build (venues), they can build. Tayo we can only boast of two to three (coliseums) at the most na world class,” Baylon added. “So practicality and geopolitics truly make China the obvious choice (for Fiba).”
At the end of the day, Baylon believes Fiba put premium on the potential of the huge Chinese population in terms of increasing the popularity of the sport worldwide.
“So practicality and politics made China the obvious choice. Imagine mo, if just 25 percent of their population watch and support the Fiba games, that’s 250 millio people and that’s already twice the Philippine population,” he said.
“In terms of practicality, bibili ng gamit, merchandise. Mas madaming Chinese, although, they might fake it pa,” said the longtime newspaper columnist.
Baylon, however, was all praises for the efforts made by Filipino basketball officials led by SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan to bring the Fiba World Cup to the Philippines for the first time since 1978.
At the same time, he’s keeping his fingers crossed Pangilinan won’t get disheartened after the failure.
“The sad part is yung pinaghirapan ng ating mga officials, nila MVP, I hope he doesn’t get disheartened. Yung psychological letdown after all the efforts,” he said.
”The fact that you were down to two (bidders), that’s already a major, major achievement. Pero nung nakita ko nga na it was Philippines versus China, hay naku, sabi ko sa sarili ko: “Mahirap yan (talunin).'
All other factors, minus emotions, China ang choice,” said the vice president for corporate affairs of Nickel Asia.