FORMER Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes believes it will be a close fight between the Philippines and China for the hosting rights of the 2019 Basketball World Cup.
The two countries emerged as the two finalists in the battle for the hosting rights after world governing body Fiba announced the 2019 showpiece will be held in Asia.
Reyes said both countries have different things to offer for the World Cup four years from now, with China enjoying the clear edge as far as logistics is concerned.
However, the multi-titled coach said the Filipinos' passion for basketball is something China can't match, citing the crowds that came to watch the 2013 Fiba Asia championships in Manila.
Fiba officials saw that spectacle for themselves, Reyes added.
“I think the biggest edge is the experience they (Fiba officials) went through in 2013 na grabe ang suporta ng mga tao,” Reyes told Spin.ph after representing Sports5 in the press conference of the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“It was followed in the worlds. That’s our biggest difference. ‘Yung passion ng mga Pilipino sa basketball,” Reyes said.
Being a first-world country, China, Reyes conceded, will have the edge in all other factors.
“Kasi kung dadaanin mo sa population, development, and venues, talo tayo. Pero lamang tayo sa passion and love for the game,” said Reyes.
“It’s going to be close, very close,” he added.
The Fiba Central Board announced on Tuesday that it has decided to hold the 2019 Fiba World Cup in Asia, with the Philippines and China beating the joint bid of Germany as well as those of France, Qatar, and Turkey.
Reyes, now the head of Sports5, said he already expected an Asian country to earn the hosting rights for the next Fiba World Cup since Europe already had its turn with Spain hosting last year's showpiece.
“I kinda expected it because I don’t think they will award it to Europe dahil katatapos lang sa Europe,” Reyes said. “I’m not surprised.”
So now, it’s down to two countries in China and the Philippines. The winning bidder will not only get to host one of the biggest sports events in the world, it will also gain an automatic spot in the field.
“The pressure has just been upped a few notches,” Reyes said.