PBA games the first stop for Fiba inspection team in bidding war for 2019 World Cup
SBP deputy director Butch Antonio says president Manny V. Pangilinan is 'very much hands on' in the bid to land the hosting rights of the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup.

SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) officials are hoping to impress  the Fiba inspection committee which is coming over to check on the country’s capability to host the 2019 Fiba World Cup.

SBP deputy director for international affairs Butch Antonio said the country has stepped up its bidding effort to have the quadrennial meet back in the Philippines after being included in the short list of potential host by the world governing body in basketball last November.

The Philippine last hosted the world championship in 1978.

“MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan, president of SBP)  is very much hands on in this project. He is making this bid effort a priority since we were included in the shortlist last year,” Antonio told sportswriters during Friday’s Online Media Group forum at the Country Spice Restaurant Grill along Sgt. Esguerra, Quezon City.

Fiba secretary-general Patrick Baumann will be heading the five-man Fiba team arriving on Monday along with Slovakian Lubomir Kotleba, New Zealander Burton Shipley, the president of Fiba Oceania zone, Serbian Predrag Bogosavlev, and Dutchman Frank Leenders.

The on-site inspection will be followed by the submission of final candidature files in April, and the final bid presentations and announcement of the host nation by the Fiba Central Board in July.

Aside from the Philippines, also bidding are Germany and France along with China, Turkey, and Qatar.

A tight itinerary awaits the Fiba officials upon arrival in Manila on Monday.

They get the ball rolling the next day when they watch on ringside the kick-off games of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup featuring KIA Motors against GlobalPort, followed by the clash between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“We’ve made representation already with the Commissioner’s Office since Tuesday na ang opening, na kung puwedeng papanoorin ng game ang mga Fiba guests natin. And nag-agree naman si commish (Chito Salud) para maipakita lang natin ang laro and siyempre, yung crowd,” Antonio said.

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The Fiba officials will also be inspecting the three existing sports facilities at the MoA, Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, and the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

The Fiba officials will also be flying to Cebu to check out the site where the SM Group of Companies intend to build its own basketball coliseum.

They will also be meeting with key officials of the Solaire Group under businessman Enrique Razon, who intends to build a state-of-the-art coliseum within the Entertainment City.

League chairman Patrick Gregorio, who served as SBP’s founding executive director, explained the visit of the Fiba officials will also be a perfect opportunity to show the potential of the country as a premiere tourist destination spot.

“If we can promote the country, promote our brands and promote basketball, I don’t think it’s money that’s expensive or outrageous kasi kung hihimayin mo din lang, this (bidding for 2019 Fiba World Cup) is a very big sports tourism event,” he said.

“If we can get tourists from 31 countries staying here for two weeks, napakalaking contribution iyan sa tourism natin.”

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