CHINA on Friday beat the Philippines to earn the right to host the Fiba World Cup in 2019, a decision met by disappointment in a basketball-crazy nation that had longed to bring the sport's biggest spectacle to its shores.
The Philippine bid team, led by sportsman-businessman Manny V. Pangilinan and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, had made a moving 20-minute presentation before the all-powerful Fiba Central Board that played on the Filipinos' passion for basketball that is unmatched anywhere in the world.
In contrast, China tapped retired NBA star Yao Ming as the closer of its own presentation, which highlighted the country's great infrastructure, big basketball following, and experience in hosting major events like the 2008 Olympic Games which was held in Beijing.
As #PUSO2019 trended around the world, the Philippine bid team, which was also backstopped by former national coach Chot Reyes, Jimmy Alapag and Fil-Am Holywood actor Lou Diamond Phillips. waited with bated breath as Pangilinan and Co. joined the Central Board for the final question-and-answer portion.
In the end, eager anticipation turned into frustration as the Fiba board, after two delays, announced that it had given the 2019 World Cup to a nation of over a billion people which had hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008 and has recently won the right to host the 2022 Winter Games.
"Sakit," Reyes tweeted, capturing in one world the sadness that enveloped basketball-loving fans moments after the winning bidder was announced.
According to insiders, the Fiba Central Board voted 14-7 to bring the World Cup to China.
It will be the first time for China to host basketball's World Cup, which its bid presentors said would be held in eight cities namely Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Foshan, Wuhan, and Donguan in 2019.
Social media soon shared the frustration of the Philippine bid team, with thousands of Filipino fans expressing disgust for the decision and some referencing the ongoing territorial dispute with China.