By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
WITH the countdown for the country’s hosting of the 2023 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Basketball World Cup now under way, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has also begun prepping up to have itself ready for the big event.
And while the coronavirus pandemic has rendered early preparations challenging, the local basketball federation remains undeterred and is forging ahead.
One way it is going about shaping up is by hosting one of the tournament bubbles of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers set for February next year.
The Philippines joins Japan, Qatar, and Bahrain as sites for the matches of the third and final window of the pandemic-hit qualifiers.
Clark in Angeles, Pampanga, will be the site of the bubble here that will have teams from Groups A and C competing from Feb. 18-22, 2021.
For SBP President Al S. Panlilio, the February hosting bears much significance as they get the ball rolling for the 2023 FIBA World Cup preparations.
“It’s preparatory for 2023. We are trying to improve every time. Obviously, we’ve hosted a lot in the past. It’s always a learning experience for us. Today is a learning experience because of the pandemic,” said Mr. Panlilio at the virtual conference for the February hosting last Saturday.
The SBP executive went on to say that they are also using the event as an opportunity to foster further their good relationship with FIBA and champion the sport.
“We’ve always had a good relationship with FIBA, our Chairman Emeritus MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) is at the Central Board and FIBA Asia called if we can consider hosting the February window, not only our grouping, but also Group C. We’ve always wanted to host events here around our countrymen… That’s always been MVP’s thrust. He had so many things here, the FIBA Asia Qualifier, the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and we’ve always wanted to bring the games here, so our Filipino fans will be able to see our team play,” Mr. Panlilio said.
The Philippines earned the right to host the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup along with Japan and Indonesia, beating the joint bid made by Argentina and Uruguay.
The World Cup is to take place from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10, 2023 with the group phase held across all three host countries and the final phase to follow here in the country.
It will mark the first time that the Philippines will host the event after four decades.
ENSURING FEBRUARY IS A SUCCESS
Meanwhile, Mr. Panlilio said they will ensure the country’s hosting of the February Asia Cup Qualifier bubble will be a success, banking on cooperation with the different stakeholders, including the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), and pertinent government agencies.
“It’s a different kind of hosting, and with the help of the government and the PBA’s experience, it will be a very successful one,” he said.
In offering to be host of the FIBA bubble, SBP touted the successful staging of the tournament bubble of the PBA from October to early this month also in Clark.
In turn, the PBA and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), also in the press conference, expressed their full cooperation in the undertaking.
Set to see action in the window here are Gilas Pilipinas (3-0), Korea (2-0), Indonesia (1-2), and Thailand (0-4) in Group A, and New Zealand (2-0), Australia (1-1), Guam (0-1), and Hong Kong (0-1) in Group C.