MANILA, Philippines – Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio finds it unfair that some foreign media outlets have questioned the Philippines’ hosting capabilities for the 2023 FIBA World Cup following the bench-clearing melee that erupted between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia on Monday, July 2.
“I’m seeing some reports from the press from Australia that we should be suspended, it should be stripped from us, but it was quite unfair and I think this is a standalone situation that should be dealt with,” said Panlilio before the start of the POC general assembly on Wednesday, July 4.
The Philippines won the rights to stage the world event in a joint bid with Japan and Indonesia last December 2017. (READ: PH to co-host 2023 FIBA World Cup with Japan, Indonesia)
Panlilio said the country has even proven its capability to host bigger global events such as the ASEAN Summit last November and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2015.
“In terms of how we can host events in our country, if other people are painting a different picture, that’s not fair to us because we have proven in the past, not only in sports: ASEAN, APEC, and all of that,” added Panlilio.
In terms of security, Panlilio argued that the Filipino fans in the stands did not try to hurt the Australian team and its players. They even tried to lighten up the mood while waiting for the referees’ decision.
“Of course there’s jeering and all of these things, then the Filipino crowd just tried to enjoy themselves by doing the waves, turning their phones with the lights on, and just enjoy themselves.”
Despite the criticisms, Panlilio continues to put his trust in FIBA that the international body will make the best decisions – including proper sanctions and suspensions. Both SBP and Basketball Australia have already collaborated in investigating on the brutal incident.
“If FIBA looks at this at full context, appreciates the whole situation, I’m sure they will be fair in metting out any suspension if ever to both countries,” said Panlilio.
Preparations for the World Cup hosting have already gone underway as SBP has formed the Gilas 2023 squad bannered by rising stars Kobe Paras and Thirdy Ravena. Troy Rike, who helped break the Gilas brawl, is the team’s latest recruit. – Rappler.com