THE powerhouse team of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas arrived in Tokyo late Tuesday, hopeful of getting the blessings of top Fiba Asia executives to host the qualifier for the 2014 World Basketball Championship.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, PBA commissioner Chito Salud, and former Fiba-Asia secretary-general Moying Martelino departed for the Japanese capital on Tuesday morning prepared and armed to the teeth for the scheduled presentation of the team on Wednesday.
Manny V. Pangilinan, the SBP president, and hopefully, his vice chairman Ricky Vargas, are set to join them a few hours before they make their formal pitch before the Fiba-Asia executive board in the meeting set from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Grand Prince New Takanawa Hotel.
Top Fiba-Asia officials are currently in Japan for the ongoing Fiba Asia Cup championship, where Smart Gilas-Pilipinas 2.0 is seeing action.
Aside from the Philippines, at least two other countries are making a bid to stage the 2013 Fiba-Asia Championship, where the top two placers will win slots to the 2014 World Championships in Spain.
Conflicting reports from Japan said Iran has pulled out of the bidding while China has launched a last-ditch bid. Japan was also reported as a last-minute candidate.
Barrios said he’s not aware if the other countries are would also making their respective presentations.
“We’re just after our own presentation. We’re looking forward to positive results regarding our hosting bid. We’re all working hard for it,” Barrios told Spin.ph from Tokyo.
The Philippines twice hosted the event in the past – during its inaugural stage in 1960 and in 1973. Both times, the country emerged champion.
Martelino, a well-respected official within the Asian basketball circuit, is just as optimistic a third hosting stint will be awarded to the country 40 years after the meet was last held here.
“We have expectations, we have left no stone unturned,” Martelino told Spin.ph. “We will have an AV presentation, plus a verbal presentation of Sonny (Barrios) and myself.”
A major factor in the country’s hosting bid is the positive response the SBP got from Fiba-Asia secretary-general Hagop Khajirian, who came away impressed when he made an ocular inspection of the Mall of Asia Arena during his recent visit here.
Following the presentation, the SBP team will stay for a few days to watch and support the national team as it plays in the knockout stage of the Fiba Asia Cup.
Filipino basketball officials return to the country on Saturday.