MANILA, Philippines – Determined to succeed in 2017 after falling short in 2015, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) believes it has put together a "compelling" presentation that will convince FIBA that the nation is worthy of hosting the 2023 World Cup, together with Japan and Indonesia.
The leaders of the three countries' basketball-governing bodies are set to travel to Switzerland later this week for a crucial presentation in front of FIBA's Central Board on December 9. They are up against another joint bid, with South American countries Uruguay and Argentina also looking to host the showcase event.
"In FIBA's mind, they want to raise the level of the World Cup every year," said SBP president Al Panlilio on Monday. "They were very happy with Seville (in 2014), and they feel that awarding it to China (in 2019) is a higher level to the hosting of Seville."
"They want the next hosting in 2023 to be higher than what they foresee China can bring. That's why our proposition has built a strong case with FIBA, that indeed, we will be able to surpass the level of China in 2019," he added.
This marks the second time in three years that SBP has put forward a bid to host the FIBA World Cup. They were heartbroken in 2015, when they lost out to China for the rights to host the 2019 edition of the event despite a heartwarming campaign centered on the passion of Filipino fans.
This time around, the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia have prepared a presentation that might not be as elaborate as the one in 2015, which saw Jimmy Alapag, Lou Diamond Philips, and Manny Pacquiao present their case in Japan.
However, the SBP official is "cautiously optimistic" of their chances, believing that the tri-nation bid offers FIBA "three times the impact, three times the exposure, and three times the legacy."
"I felt that we won the 2015 bid," said Panlilio. "But what we did we learn from it?"
"I think we really wanted to have a more compelling bid. We feel that this bid, with the three countries, it's a compelling bid for FIBA to consider," he revealed.
The joint bid, which reporters got a snippet of on Monday at the Meralco compound, showcases how the three countries can help grow basketball exponentially and introduce it to a massive population, most of whom are young people who regularly use social media.
Indeed, Panlilio and SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said repeatedly that in bringing the World Cup to the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, FIBA will have an audience of half a billion people.
"Imagine, there is a 500 million population among the three countries. I was told that Indonesia, together with the Philippines, has a very young population – very young, and predisposed to social media," said Panlilio. "In Indonesia, the interest in basketball for that young demographic is there."
"It's the power of three," said Barrios. "Representing half a billion people that are multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual."
"So if you're FIBA, and your main objective is the globalization of the sport, dapat mas (pabor) ka doon sa co-hosting bid nitong tatlo," he added, stressing that the bid of the three nations will reach a bigger, more diverse audience.
Panlilio agreed: "If they want growth for the next level for FIBA, the region they should bring the next World Cup is Southeast Asia."
Should the Asian nations win the bid, the Philippines will host games at the Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena, with the semifinals and finals to be held at the 50,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. Other group round games will be held in Okinawa, Japan, and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Okinawa and Jakarta will host eight countries each, while the Philippines will host 16. All three countries will also be automatically seeded in the World Cup.
Moreover, SBP promised FIBA that if they do win the bid, then there will be record crowds attending the World Cup games. As it stands, the highest attendance for a FIBA World Cup game is 35,000; holding the final in the Philippine Arena will give the Philippines a golden opportunity to smash that record.
"Meralco-Ginebra nga, 54,000 na," said Panlilio, referring to the mammoth crowd that watched Game 7 of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals between the Gin Kings and the Bolts last October in the Philippine Arena.
All three countries are working double time with for the presentation, with Panlilio hopeful that it will be enough to convince FIBA of their worth and readiness after they failed to do so two years ago.
"We are hopeful that we will be able to bring the games to the Philippines, to Okinawa, and to Jakarta," he said. "We want to really expand basketball in the region, aligned with what FIBA wants to do."
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