The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is keeping its fingers crossed that most of the world’s top basketball-playing countries with NBA stars would be able to come for the 2023 FIBA World Cup scheduled in Manila on Aug. 25-Sept. 23.
And the Philippines, which is hosting the blue-ribbon event featuring the world’s top players for only the second time since 1978, is now working double time with less 11 months remaining to ensure its success.
SBP Executive Director and FIBA World Cup Event Director Sonny Barrios said Filipinos should look forward to the final draw for the 32-team tournament which will also be held in Manila on April.
“The final draw, which will be held in Manila and not in the FIBA headquarters in Geneva, is very important,” said Barrios during his special appearance in the 39th “Sports on Air” recently.
“As we all know, we are co-hosting the World Cup with Japan and Indonesia. Dito sa final draw natin malalaman kung sino yung 16 countries na lalaro dito sa atin at yung eight countries na lalaro sa Japan at eight countries na lalaro sa Indonesia,” explained Barrios.
“Yung 16 countries sa Pilipinas, eight will play at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, and eight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Pagkatapos yung Top 2 sa Indonesia, Top 2 sa Japan, Top 2 sa Araneta at Top 2 sa MOA Arena, lalaro naman sa quarterfinals, semifinals at finals sa Philippine Arena. Mas malaki to accomodate more fans dahil ini-expect natin na mas marami ang gustong manood.”
Added Barrios:”Kapag nagkabunutan sa Abril at nalaman na po natin kung sino-sinong NBA superstars ang lalaro dito, tiyak po magkakagulo na sa pagbili ng ticket. Kung ako sa inyo, huwag na ninyong hintayin ang draw. Ngayon pa lang meron pang early bird discount, mag take advantage na po.”
Barrios said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos has already instructed all concerned government agencies to provide assistance and ensure the successful hosting of the event.
“Nagsalita na ang ating pangulo na si President BBM, na nanawagan ng suporta ng lahat. Malaking bagay yung suporta ni President Marcos. Nakita nyo naman he even personally watched the qualifying game at the MOA Arena last Aug. 29. Sa Senado, naimbita po kami at sinabi nga ng Senate Committee for Sports under Sen. Bong Go na full support din sila. Sa mga hindi pa nakakaalam, ang chairman of the SBP Board po namin ay si Sen. Sonny Angara, who is the Chairman of Senate Committee of Finance. Sa Congress, nagkataon at pinapalad po ang SBP na ang ating Vice Chairman na si Deputy Speaker Robbie Puno, ay nagbalangkas na ng suporta kasama ang head ng Committee of Youth and Sports na si Cong. Mike Dy. Yung sama-sama together, ika nga. Pag nag-tulong tulong ang lahat, we will have a successful hosting,” stressed Barrios.
One of these government agencies now taking the lead is the Department of Tourism.
“I know madaming Filipino basketball fans na ang super excited, even yun mga nasa ibang bahagi ng mundo. Ang daming mga kababayan natin kami na na-meet from all over the world. Sa Spain, sa Canada, Australia, North America, lahat excited na.”
“Kaya isa sa pinag-usapan namin sa first coordination meeting namin with the DOT ay yun magkakaroon sila ng special balikbayan program para dito sa World Cup. Hindi lang ngayon para pumunta sa mga well-known tourist destinations natin kundi para panoorin ang World Cup.”
Even the private sector is fully supporting the World Cup, according to Barrios.
“Maganda talaga ang suporta from the private sector, especially the business community. I’m sure na nabalitaan na ninyo ang suporta ng San Miguel Corporation sa pangunguna ni Mr. Ramon Ang. Nagpahayag na siya ng madaming suporta dito sa ating hosting, pati po yung pag-gamit ng Skyway. Ang SM ni Mr. Hans Sy, nagsalita na rin ng full support para dito. Yun tinatawag nating mga stakeholders sa basketball community, nandyan din.”
“The SBP, headed by our dear president Mr. Al Panlilio, called for a unified effort dito sa hosting natin at agad-agad, nagpahayag ng suporta ang PBA at iba pang prominent leagues like UAAP and NCAA. The rest of the SBP board representing nationwide leagues naka-suporta din.”
The support of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), headed by Chairman Noli Eala, and Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), led by Chairman Ricky Vargas and Commissioner Willie Marcial, were also mentioned by Barrios.
“Si PSC Chairman Noli Eala full support talaga mula pa simula. The PBA even adjusted their 2023 schedule to make their players available.”
Barrios, who also served as PBA commissioner from 2008-2010, stressed the difference in hosting the World Cup in 1978 and 2023.
“Malaki ang kaibahan when we first hosted the World Cup at the Araneta Coliseum in 1978. Yung 45-year gap ay talagang napakalaki ang diperensya. Nung 1978, eight teams lang at iisa ang venue. Ngayon16 ang teams, three venues. Maraming mangyayari. May Congress tayo with more than 450 delegates. More than one ang team hotel hindi gaya dati na iisa lang. Now at least two team hotels in group phase or elimination phase and one team hotel for the final phase.”
“Kaya puspusan talaga ang paghahanda. Panay meetings even during the pandemic. Ang tawag ko nga sa akin ay all-around kasambahay as executive director of SBP, event director ng local organizing committee and now, spokesperson,” added Barrios. With reports from Gab Ferreras