ALTHOUGH he remained hopeful about the possibility of hosting the Fiba-Asia Championship, a top official of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) would rather not touch the sensitive matter.
Not at this stage, at least.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios was careful not to slight host Lebanon as the continued strife in the Middle East country revived hopes of the Asian championships being moved to Manila.
“Iwasan muna sana natin mag-comment o pag-usapan. Kasi pride nung current host (Lebanon) ang pinag-uusapan diyan,” said Barrios when asked for comment by Spin.ph.
The plea of the SBP official came amid reports that the Philippines is set to be named host of the Fiba-Asia meet in lieu of the strife-torn country. Asian basketball powers Iran and Jordan had already demanded that Fiba-Asia pull out the event from Lebanon, reports said.
The country lost to Lebanon last year in the bidding war for the event serving as qualifier of the 2014 Fiba-World Basketball Championship in Spain, although the Philippines has been named as possible alternate host in case the situation in the Middle East country doesn’t improve.
Barrios did admit, however, that no final word has emanated from Fiba-Asia whether the Philippines will no longer be the site of the tournament.
“Ang sabi kasi sa akin ng Fiba Asia, hintay lang tayo,” said Barrios. “Kasi `yung sensitivity niyan (if ever aalisin sa Lebanon), medyo maselan. Peace and order nung country ang pinag-uusapan. Baka magalit `yung gobyerno nila sa atin.”
The former PBA commissioner said he’s positive that before the end of the month, a final decision will be made by Fiba-Asia secretary-general Hagop Khajirian on the matter.
“Abang muna tayo. At least ang maganda hindi nila sinasabi na, ‘Kalimutan niyo na `yung hosting, wala na kayo.' That gives me strong hope kasi buhay pa eh (ang chance to host),” said Barrios.
If and when the Fiba-Asia hosting is turned over to the country, Barrios said the SBP has the logistics to put together a well-staged tournament.
“Ready naman si boss MVP (Manny Pangilinan) sa budget in case tayo ang maging biglaang host,” Barrios assured.
For his part, Smart Gilas-Pilipinas 2.0 coach Chot Reyes welcomed the development.
“We are very hopeful, sana mangyari… malaking bagay sa atin yun (hosting),” said Reyes, who will be leaving on Wednesday along with the national team to compete in the 24th Dubai International basketball tournament.