THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) assured that the security of participating teams will be a foremost conern when the country hosts the biggest basketball event to be held in the country in 35 years.
SBP treasurer Dr. Jay Adalem said organizers are in close coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP) as far as safety and protection of the foreign teams and the Filipino basketball fans in general are concerned.
The Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship officially kicks off Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the Ninoy Aquino Stadium serving as satellite venue. The qualifier to next year’s World Basketball Championship is the first major cage tournament the country is hosting since the 1978 world championship.
“We have coordinated everything with the PNP from the route na dadaanan (ng participating teams) from their hotel to the playing venue and back. Kaya nga `yung ating mga hotels na ginamit ay malapit lang dito sa MOA and pati na sa Ninoy Aquino Stadium,” said Adalem.
Foreign teams are expected to start arriving one after the other, with Kazakhstan already booked here as early as last week.
Security concerns on the country’s first Fiba-Asia hosting in the last 40 years were raised following the shooting of Letran back-up guard Franz Dysam in an ambush that led to the death of his girlfriend Joan Sordan.
The diplomatic tension with both Chinese-Taipei and Hong Kong also cause some alarm on security measures for the duration of the August 1-11 cage meet.
But Adalem has allayed all fears on the matter as he stressed most of the incidents are not really basketball-related.
“Of course, we’re not taking things for granted, kaya nga we’re in constant communication with the PNP leadership,” said the SBP official, who is also president of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (NAASCU).
“Even `yung mga bus na gagamitin (ng mga foreign teams) will be secured by several policemen, who will actually be inside the bus to make sure the players are safe.”