THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) wishes the safety of FIBA-Asia officials and personnel after its head office was among those damaged following the major explosion that rocked Lebanon on Wednesday.
The basketball federation led by president Al. S Panlilio already sent messages of sympathy in the headquarters of the FIBA zone in Asia following the incident in Beirut that left 135 people dead and injured 5,000 others.
Good thing, no one among the staff of FIBA Asia was hurt in the blast, although the office, located in downtown Beirut, was destroyed.
The FIBA-Asia headquarters is where FIBA Executive Director for Asia and Chief Executive Officer of FIBA Asia secretariat Hagop Khajirian holds office.
“To all our friends from the FIBA office in Beirut led by FIBA Executive Director for Asia Hagop Khajirian, we are hoping you and your loved ones are all safe and the SBP will continue to be your ally through this,” said Panlilio in a statement.
“The SBP extends our deepest condolences to everyone who lost a family member or a friend in the unfortunate incident.”
Retired SBP Executive Director Bernie Atienza said FIBA Asia staff were all safe, but confirmed the damage done by the blast on the FIBA zone headquarters.
“As to what extent (the damage) I don’t know,” he said, adding the explosion caused by storage of tons of highly explosive fertilizer in a waterfront warehouse, had a 15-mile radius.
“Luneta to Cubao is 19 km. And 15 miles is about 25 km. So abot hanggang Marikina.”
Atienza could only imagine the devastation the explosion did to the FIBA Asia headquarters since the Nuts Store, which he frequented whenever he’s in Beirut for a FIBA meeting, was also damaged. The store is located just at the corner of Hagop’s office.
Panlilio, who is second vice president of FIBA Asia Central Board, likewise sent a personal message to the FIBA executive shortly after the incident.
“I heard and saw the terrible explosion in Beirut. I hope and pray for the country’s immediate recovery in this already very trying times,” he said.
In general, the SBP head also sympathized with the country and the people of Lebanon.
“Our thoughts and prayer are with the entire country of Lebanon as they go through this difficult time,” said Panlilio.
“The Lebanese people are facing a herculean challenge right now, but we’re confident that they will be able to rebuild because of their great resolve and their care for one another.”
Beirut hosted the FIBA Asia Cup in 2017 where Gilas Pilipinas finished seventh overall after reaching the quarterfinals. The campaign is best remembered for the Filipinos’ 96-87 upset of China despite not having naturalized player Andray Blatche.