MVP wants 2023 Fiba World Cup hosting to be his biggest legacy in PH basketball
Manny V. Pangilinan is keeping his fingers crossed as the battle for the hosting of the world basketball championship has been reduced into a two-way race between Argentina/Uruguay and the Philippine-Japan-Indonesia joint bids. Marlo Cueto

MANNY V. Pangilinan is looking forward with guarded optimism to the ambitious bid to bring to the country the 2023 Fiba World Cup.

The battle for the hosting of the world basketball championship has been reduced into a two-way race between Argentina/Uruguay and the Philippine-Japan-Indonesia joint bids following the late withdrawal of Russia and Turkey.

While that may have increased the chance to bring the world’s biggest basketball event to the country for the first time since 1973, Pangilinan is still keeping his fingers crossed.

“I’m guardedly optimistic, cautiously optimistic,” said the country’s longtime basketball patron.

The Fiba will announce the winner of the hosting bid on Dec. 9.

Pangilinan kidded everything seems to be going Argentina’s way as far as bidding for the hosting rights is concerned.

“Siyempre, the president of Fiba is Argentinian (Horacio Muratore), although, I’m sure he’ll excuse himself,” the managing director and CEO of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Company Limited said with a big smile on his face.

“More importantly, the Pope (Pope Francis) is Argentinian right? So God must be on their side,” he added. “So we might have to invoke Allah.”

But kidding aside, Pangilinan said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is very serious in its hosting campaign, even doubling its effort from the bid for the 2019 edition of the quadrennial meet which it lost to China.

If ever, he added winning the hosting bid would be a good Christmas gift not only to himself but for the entire basketball-loving Filipinos.

If ever too, Pangilinan said it could serve as the legacy he’ll leave as the country’s basketball leader.

“It would be a good Christmas gift for the country. It’s a great honor,” he proudly said.   

“If there is any legacy that I’d like to leave in the sport of basketball, it’s that the Philippines will, after so many years, have the center of attention in the world in the sport of basketball.”

Right now, all we can do is wait, according to Pangilinan.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed. We put in a very good bid, so let’s see,” he said. “Let’s show the world the Philippine brand of basketball.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos