MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is ready to host the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup in June, officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) declared on Thursday.
The annual event, which was staged last year in France, will be held from June 8-12 at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
In a brief event at the Bonifacio High Street, SBP officials together with FIBA managing director Alex Sanchez unveiled the official logo of the event, which will be held in the Philippines for the first time ever.
"It's exciting times for basketball in general in the Philippines," SBP president Al Panlilio said. "We don't have to wait for 2023 (for the FIBA Basketball World Cup). We've brought the 3x3 World Cup here."
Also gracing the event were SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, Senators Joel Villanueva and Sonny Angara, Smart Sports chief Epok Quimpo, and Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas.
"We're so excited to be a part of this," said Villanueva, whose hometown of Bocaue will be hosting the 3x3 World Cup. "We can't wait to see you all and celebrate with us."
The Philippines' hosting of the FIBA 3x3 World Cup is significant in many ways. For one, 3x3 is now an Olympic sport, and will be included in the Tokyo Games in 2020. And while the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup will not serve as a qualifier to the 2020 Games, it should build momentum for the Philippines' 3x3 program, according to Sanchez.
"The fact that we have this event here, even if it's not a direct qualifier, it should help create a momentum in order to implement a successful program," said Sanchez, who arrived in the Philippines all the way from Spain on Thursday morning, and will head to Bocaue, Bulacan to inspect the Philippine Arena before he leaves.
The Philippines' best performance in the 3x3 World Cup was in 2016, when the country finished ninth overall. Last year, a team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quiñahan placed 11th.
Hosting the 3x3 World Cup also serves as great preparation for the Philippines ahead of its hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2023.
"We're very excited about that," said Panlilio of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. "But that is five years down the road."
The two senators present vowed that the government will support the hosting of the 3x3 World Cup.
"We'll do what we can," said Angara. "In terms of the venue, the transportation, all the hidden costs, I think the government can help also."
"As far as the composition of the Senate right now, there are a lot of basketball addicts there who are more than willing to throw their support," said Villanueva.
Finally, Barrios noted the happy coincidence that the final day of the tournament coincides with Philippine Independence Day.
"Kami nila Sen. Joel will work together with Mayor (Eleanor Villanueva-Tugna), the senator's good sister, to make it an independence week celebration event," he said.
Forty teams – 20 men's team and 20 women's teams – will compete in the event. Aside from the 3x3 tournament itself, there will be a men's dunk contest, a women's skills contest, and a mixed shootout contest.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)