MANILA, Philippines -- JIP, the official mascot of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, was introduced to Filipino fans on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Atrium.
JIP -- an acronym of the co-hosts Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines -- is considered a key component to the success of the 2023 edition of the world meet.
"JIP will provide a fun aspect to the FIBA World Cup 2023. Through his story, he will bring in more fan engagement and media exposure," said Ramon "Tats" Suzara, the master implementor of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
"One of the LOC's objectives is to make basketball a more inclusive game, and the presence of JIP in our campaigns will draw the youth into the picture, an age group we cannot ignore, as they represent the next generation of players and fans," added LOC deputy executive director Erika Dy.
Suzara and Dy were present alongside FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 executive director David Crocker and LOC executive director Sonny Barrios in the introductory event that also had a photo booth, arcade basketball, art tables, and an intermission from rock band Sponge Cola.
For its part, FIBA sees JIP and his launch as yet another step forward in the co-hosts' preparations for the World Cup 2023.
"This is still a celebration of the World Cup 2023. I know the work all three countries put in together and I think it's a great mascot. It symbolizes three countries working together. We want to show how basketball can make an impact outside of sport," said Crocker.
JIP is also a symbol of sustainability, with his story stressing the importance of recycling and taking care of the environment.
"The idea is we need to keep doing the right things for the world. Through basketball, and a story like JIP's, we can make a difference," said Crocker.
"The basket behind him promotes proper waste disposal and recycling. In addition, non-recyclable waste is converted into energy, to power his shoes. Overall, the futuristic concept of JIP is the perfect preview of how innovative and high-tech the FIBA World Cup 2023 will be," Dy explained.
After his launch, JIP is set to visit schools and local communities -- not just in the Philippines, but also in co-host cities Okinawa, Japan and Jakarta, Indonesia -- to share his story.
In around three weeks, it will be one year before the World Cup, and a countdown clock courtesy of official timekeeper Tissot will be unveiled to mark the occasion.
Meanwhile, Crocker said FIBA is satisfied at the LOC's progress in the hosting, after another inspection of the Philippines' three venues for the tournament: the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, and the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
"We're very excited about what we've seen. We know we've got a great organizing committee here in the Philippines who are very professional. We're very excited that we're going to have a great event here in the Philippines," he said.