THE brand-new year offers renewed hope and confidence as officials of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) step up the country’s bid to secure the hosting rights of the 2019 Fiba World Cup.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said he and other top officials has been meeting regularly since December in preparation for the expected visit of a five-man Fiba team that will do an on-site inspection in various parts of the country from January 26-30.
The optimism of winning the hosting rights, according to Barrios, comes from the country’s successful staging of the 2013 Fiba Asia Men’s Championship, along with the Manila leg of the 2014 Fiba 3x3 tournament.
“Ang No. 1 na katangian natin as a country is yung passion natin for the sport. We believe that (passion) is without equal,” Barrios told Spin.ph on Friday.
“Para kasi sa Fiba, kahit anong ganda ng venue pero kung wala namang manonood, parang wala din, which is why they would prefer a location (host country) na maipagmamalaki nila na maraming nanood,” he added.
Barrios, the former PBA commissioner, stressed top Fiba officials were impressed with the way the country handled the hosting of the international body’s two major tournaments one after the other.
He even cited one instance where Fiba included in its special basketball video a portion of Filipino cage fans making the wave during one of Gilas Pilipinas’ games during the Fiba Asia tilt at the Mall of Asia Arena,
“Swerte tayo kasi if we look back, after ng hosting natin ng Fiba Asia and Fiba 3x3, they (Fiba officials) deemed them successful. In fact, ginamit pa nila ‘yung part na nagwe-wave ang mga fans sa video ng Fiba. Eh wala naman silang na-e-experience before na ganung full pack,” he added.
The SBP executive also said the huge throng of Filipino overseas workers, who came in droves to cheer Gilas Pilipinas in last year’s Fiba World Cup in Spain, could be an added ‘points’ in the country’s bid to once again host the world basketball championship that was last held here in 1978.
“Kaya ganun na lang tayo ka-confident na malaki ang chance natin (to win the hosting rights),” he said.
The country’s three existing playing venues – the MoA in Pasay, the Smart-Araneta Coliseum at the heart of Cubao, and the newly-built, 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bulacan - are set as key basketball sites for the biggest basketball tournament in the world.
Two more soon-to-be-built venues are being eyed by the SBP - a sports venue, which the SM Group is reportedly looking to build in Cebu, and another under the Solaire Group of businessman Enrique Razon, which will be built in the Entertainment City.
The on-site inspection will be followed by the submission of final candidature files in April, and the final bid presentations and announcement of the host nation by the Fiba Central Board in May.
Aside from the Philippines, also bidding are Germany and France along with China, Turkey, and Qatar, which is reportedly the frontrunner so far.