SEVILLE, SPAIN – The Philippines has announced that it will make a ‘serious bid’ to host the 2019 Basketball World Cup, on the day Gilas Pilipinas ended its first appearance in 36 years in the quadrennial event with a historic win over Senegal.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan said he made a strong pitch to host the 2019 event during the last Fiba Congress, where he was also invited to join the world basketball body’s central board.
If he accepts the invitation, Pangilinan will become the first Asian to be part of the powerful body.
“I have made a strong pitch that the Philippines would like to host the 2019 Fiba World Cup,” the businessman and basketball patron announced during a dinner tendered in honor of Gilas players for their breakthrough win in this 24-nation conclave.
The Philippines last hosted the event in 1978 at the Araneta Coliseum, but Pangilinan anticipates the 2019 event to be way bigger after Fiba rejigged its World Cup qualifying format to among other things expand the field to 32 teams.
The 2019 World Cup, he added, will also be bigger than this year’s showpiece which Spain hosted in four cities, with the fnal set in Barcelona.
“It will not be 24 countries but 32, divided into four teams of eight groups,” said Pangilinan, anticipating this early that the Philippines may need more than its existing basketball infrastructure to be able to host the World Cup.
As host, the Philippines will be guaranteed a spot in the tournament.
Last year, the Philippines hosted the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship for the first time since 1973 at the Mall of Asia Arena and the Cuneta Astrodome.
There is also the historic Big Dome in Quezon City, the 55,000-capacity Philippine Arena in Bulacan and a newly built stadium in Cebu, but Pangilinan said the country may need more.
“We would need eight venues,” he said, adding no other country has signified an intention to bid for the 2019 showpiece.
To get the ball rolling, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios will be staying behind in Spain to do an ocular inspection on the venues and get an idea on the logistics required to host a tournament of such magnitude.
As for his nomination to the Fiba central board, Pangilinan said he will likely accept it.
“We‘ve been invited to the central board of fiba. I’m inclined to accept. I’ve signified to (Fiba secretary-general Patrick) Baumann that I’m inclined to accept the nomination,” he said.
Turning to the players, Pangilinan said: “We’re entitled to a slot as hosts, so you guys better say healthy.”