AFTER four days spent doing the rounds of basketball venues and seeing the detailed bid presentation of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), Fiba secretary general Patrick Baumann declared that the Philippines is capable of hosting the 2019 Basketball World Cup.
Baumann, who arrived Thursday, said they were able to arrive at that conclusion after hearing the positive reports and feedback from Fiba Evaluation Commission chairman Lubomir Kotleba and members Serbian Predrag Bogosavlev and Dutchman Frank Leenders.
“The commission has come to the conclusion that yes, they (SBP) can (host in 2019),” Baumann told mediamen during Friday’s press conference at the Makati Shangri la Hotel.
Baumann said the Philippines' biggest asset is the overwhelming passion among Filipino basketball fans which the Fiba officials personally witnessed during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup game between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Everyone somehow and somewhere has a strong contact in basketball. And this is a huge asset because you are the only country that breathes basketball day in and day out,” noted the 47-year-old Fiba executive.
“The way you are as a country, this (passion for the sport) is certainly the best possible asset you can have and bring to the table for the Fiba family altogether.”
The Swiss Fiba official observed how Filipino fans would go as far as criticizing referees and even coaches, a clear indication of how much knowledgeable fans are about the sport.
“We (Fiba) will only be pleased to have a country like your own which spectators like yours are all experts, complaining on the referees, and it’s okay, all criticizing the coaches, all wanting to play at the same time, and yes, this is something extraordinary and we’re proud to have you as a member (of Fiba),” he added.
Baumann said after making the necessary recommendations to SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan and his team, he is hopeful that the SBP can put the documents altogether so they can submit them to the Fiba headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on or before the bid deadline on April 30.
“It’s up to them (SBP officials) to finalize the process and putting the documents in order and putting papers on the table and bringing them to the headquarters in Fiba so they can make the best possible impression on those who will make the decision,” said Baumann, who, before rising to become one of the powerful officials in Fiba, used to serve as a referee.