FOR someone who played a major role the last time the Fiba World Cup was held in the country, Moying Martelino is aware it won’t be a piece of cake bringing back the biggest basketball event to the Philippines four years from now.
Unlike before when it only featured 16 of the best teams in the world, today the World Cup attracts at least double that number, which meant it would really require the effort of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the private sector, and most especially the government to make it a success the way the country did back in 1978.
“On a scale of 1 to 10 (in terms of the degree of difficulty in hosting), if 1978 only went up to 3, ngayon nasa 10. Ganun kahirap mag-host dahil napakaraming factors iyan,” explained Martelino, the former Fiba-Asia secretary general, in an interview with Spin.ph.
Martelino helped run the show when the world basketball championship was staged in Manila 37 years ago. He recalled back then that only 16 teams participated, with the eliminated ballclubs ending up as tourists when the preliminary was over.
“When we hosted the event, only 16 nations participated. But out of the 16, only eight qualified for the semis and finals. So yung na-eliminate, wala nang laro yun, unlike now. May 32 participating nations and may classification phase pa (for eliminated teams to determine the final ranking),” stressed Martelino.
Just last week, the Fiba evaluation committee headed by Lubomir Kotleba, came to Manila on a four-day visit to inspect the different basketball venues and potential hotels, and met with SBP officials headed by president Manny V. Pangilinan regarding the country’s ambitious bid to win the hosting rights of the 2019 Fiba World Cup.
Fiba secretary general Patrick Baumann concluded their visit by declaring the Philippines as capable of hosting the quadrennial meet.
The winning bidder will be known in June, giving the country at least four years to prepare.
Winning the hosting rights will also mean an outright berth for the Philippines in the World Cup.
Martelino remembered fondly the events surrounding the country’s successful hosting of the meet in 1978.
Serving as executive director of the organizing committee back then, the veteran cage official cited the warm reception given by Filipino fans during the two-week duration of the cagefest.
Handled by Nic Jorge, the Filipino squad was led by Steve Watson, Joy Carpio, Padim Israel, and Alex Clarino, and finished eighth overall.
“The gold medal game was contested between Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. And the bronze medal game was contested between Italy and Brazil. Walang American team at Philippine team, pero putok ang Araneta (Coliseum),” he recalled.
It was also the last time the Philippine team saw action in the meet prior to the resurgence of Gilas Pilipinas in Seville, Spain last year.