The basketball stars are coming to Manila six years from now.
After getting denied two years ago, the Philippines, together with Japan and Indonesia, made sure the grandest stage of basketball will will be played at the Asian continent as the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) awarded the hosting rights of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup to the consortium of the three nations on Saturday in Geneva.
The PH-led bid was unanimously picked by the FIBA Central Board headed by its president Horacio Muratore. It beat the joint bid of Argentina and Uruguay.
Muratore, who is an Argentinean, admitted they decision was difficult to make as both bids were equally strong.
“We look forward to witnessing a FIBA Basketball World Cup final played in a venue packed with more than 50,000 basketball crazy fans in the Philippines, a country where basketball is a religion,” Muratore was quoted in the FIBA article.
The FIBA prexy was referring to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan where the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) held three games of the Governors’ Cup finals with the last two drawing more than 50,000 fans each game of the series won by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel over Meralco.
Reyes and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan thanked Japan and Indonesia for putting up a bid that convinced the top FIBA officials to bring the biggest stage of basketball to these Asian nations.
“I think the cooperation with Japan and Indonesia has been unbelievable,” said Reyes, the man tasked to bring the PH 5 in the 2019 World Cup in China via the qualification stage.
“Hosting the FIBA Basketball World Cup in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia is good because it does spread the basketball fever in those countries instead of concentrating it one place,” Pangilinan was quoted in the FIBA website.
“The work with Japan and Indonesia starts today. I’m sure at the end of the day it will be an excellent tournament for all three countries and for FIBA and for world basketball,” the former SBP president added.
The last time the country hosted this tournament was in 1978 when the event was still known as the FIBA World Championship. The games were played at the historic Rizal Memorial Coliseum and Araneta Coliseum.
As host, the Philippines competed in the 14-nation tournament and lost all of its eight games. Yugoslavia won the tournament.
The SBP is expected to tap the Mall of Asia Arena and the Philippine Arena as the possible venues of the 2023 World Cup.
Sixteen teams will see action in the country and eight each from Japan and Indonesia.
But the Philippines will host the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the tournament, meaning the Filipinos will have the chance to witness the stars from the National Basketball Association and other continents.
In 2015, the Philippines also bid for the hosting of the 2019 World Cup but lost to China. The voting was 14-7 in favor of China.