Philippines a contender to host 2019 World Cup as FIBA leaves 'impressed'
MANILA, Philippines – FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann and members of the FIBA Evaluation Commission were left impressed by their visit of the Philippines over the past few days as the country makes a bid to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
During a press conference recapping the visit of the Evaluation Commission on Friday, January 30, at the Shanrgi-La Makati Hotel, Baumann said that the Philippines has the "ingredients" to host the grandest basketball tournament in the world.
"The ingredients are there, between Mr. [Manny V.] Pangilinan, his own network, and the people in the federation, but also the network outside the federation to bring all this somehow together and to present a very compelling story and a very good bid by the end of April," Baumann said to reporters on Friday afternoon.
The final bids are due by the end of April, with FIBA announcing which country gets hosting rights in June. France and Germany (joint), Qatar, China, and Turkey are the other countries who have bid for hosting rights.
Led by Chairman Lubomir Kotleba, the Evalutation Commission spent the last few days visiting different arenas and hotels to see if they can be utilized for the event should the World Cup transpire in the Philippines four years from now.
"The team has seen all of the facilities that could be part of the overall story of the World Cup here. They've seen the venues. They've seen the magnificent new venue (Philippine Arena) - 52,000 spectators capacity," said Baumann.
"They've seen the Mall of Asia [Arena]. They've seen the plans for two venues that would be very good venus to come. They've seen the historical piece of venue that is the Araneta [Coliseum], which hosted the World Cup already - World Championship in 1978… it is a really important piece of history."
"There is absolutely very little concern, if any, that the event could not be hosted here under good conditions in 2019."
But outside of potential arenas as playing venues and hotel accommodations, there are many other challenges that come with hosting the World Cup.
"… 14, 15 different subjects from venues, to health care, to telecommunication, to hotels. It's a lot of details, essentially, that are being prepared, that are already in the phase of being prepared, and that need to simply be compiled in the appropriate way…," Baumann explained.
"They (FIBA) would wish to see a significant improvement and quality of the event in 2019," said Pangilinan, the President of SBP, which is organizing the bid.
"Previous FIBA World Cups have been well-staged events… but they are seeking a different step-up in the overall presentation of event."
While in the Philippines, Kotleba and his commission attended a PBA game at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday, January 27, and were left with an impression most first-time spectators of the league usually get.
"The game which we [saw] was highly competitive. A little bit more physical than I expected, but that's normal, as long as it is accepted by the basketball community," he said while laughing.
But more than that, Kotleba and his team experienced the same phenomenon that made the Philippine team a favorite in the 2014 FIBA World Cup: Puso.
"What should I say? Puso. It's known that puso is not only in the arena; puso is everywhere.
"We saw the puso everywhere we [went]. Spectators are - I'm not saying partisan, they're not partisan - they are warm, strong."
He also complimented MVP and his team for executing a "well-prepared" welcome for the FIBA Evaluation Commission.
"We were impressed. The visit of our Evaluation Commission was extremely well-prepared, which also included the participation in the game. Thank you for the opportunity to see the game. And I finish where I started: puso." – Rappler.com