MANILA, Philippines – There’s now a 50-50 chance that the basketball-crazy nation of the Philippines will host the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
In a report released by FIBA’s official website, it was announced that the 2019 edition of the grandest basketball spectacle in the world will take place in Asia, with China and the Philippines “as the two candidates left in the race to host it.”
A final decision is expected to be made in June, when FIBA’s Central Board holds a meeting.
France and Germany (joint), Qatar, and Turkey were the other countries who submitted bids to host the World Cup.
The FIBA statement reads: “Looking ahead to future editions of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, it was confirmed that the 2019 event will be played in Asia with China and the Philippines as the two candidates left in the race to host it. FIBA’s Central Board will make this final decision at its meeting in June.”
The article also states that Turkey, Qatar, and Germany are bidding to host the World Cup come 2023, with a decision on who gets the rights to be made in 2016.
The statement also says: “The Executive Committee will reconvene on 16-17 June, before FIBA’s Central Board holds a three-day meeting (18-20 June). The main topic on the agenda will be to determine the host for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.”
(READ: Gilas Pilipinas shows the world what ‘puso’ means)
Back in January of this year, FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann and members of the FIBA Evaluation Commission visited the Philippines as part of the inspection for hosting rights and were left impressed by what they saw.
Hosted by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Manny V. Pangilinan, Baumann and the commission spent days touring different potential playing facilities and hotels and even stopped by a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) game between the Meralco Bolts and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
“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…” Baumann said to reporters during a press conference at the Shangri-La Makati Hotel to conclude his visit.
“There is absolutely very little concern, if any, that the event could not be hosted here under good conditions in 2019,” he also said.
“We were impressed. The visit of our Evaluation Commission was extremely well-prepared, which also included the participation in the game,” said commission Chairman Lubomir Kotleba. “Thank you for the opportunity to see the game.”
If the Philippines beats out China for bidding rights, it will receive an automatic berth in the tournament as the host nation. Five berths will be given to teams from FIBA Africa, seven from FIBA Americas, seven from FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania, and 12 from FIBA Europe.
In the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the Philippine team – better known as Gilas Pilpinas – went 1-4 by defeating Senegal. In their losses to Argentina, Puerto Rico, Greece, and Croatia, the team was competitive and earned respect from their opponents, adoration from their fans, and exposure to the rest of the world.
FIBA recognized the Philippines with the Most Valuable Fans (MVF) award for the 2014 World Cup. FIBA says it used a “broad range of social actions” including hashtags and social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to measure points.
The last and only time the Philippines hosted the World Cup was in 1978 – when it was still called the FIBA World Championship – where the national team went winless in eight games.
(READ: Looking back: The 1978 World Basketball Championship in Manila)
China, on the other hand, has yet to ever host the World Cup.
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