MANILA, Philippines – Against a country rich in resources and well-versed in hosting global sporting competitions, what will the Philippines have to show to win the hosting rights for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup?
Proof of its immense passion for basketball.
The #PUSO2019 engagement campaign was created for this purpose – a means of showing the FIBA Central Board the gravity of the sport in the country and just how much hosting the world basketball event means to Filipinos.
“[Our greatest edge] is our passion for the game and that’s best embodied by puso,” former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said during a roundtable discussion.
Puso means “heart” in Filipino and it was the battlecry of national men’s basketball team Gilas Pilipinas when it competed in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship with the goal of qualifying for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain – a feat that had not been done in 4 decades at the time.
Lacking in height, talent and experience, puso, to Gilas, meant fighting and trudging on despite circumstances and setbacks, and willing themselves to win even when it didn’t seem possible.
The word truly bore meaning when Gilas ended a decades-long Korean “curse” by sheer grit and wound up with the silver and the World Cup slot.
It stuck through to the World Cup, where Gilas, widely written off before the tournament, put on a surprise performance and nearly defeated some of the world’s top basketball nations such as Argentina. They eventually snagged their first World Cup victory in 40 years against Senegal.
“It’s like when we talk about the Filipinos’ passion for basketball it’s not lip service. Here’s the proof,” Reyes said. “Hopefully we can make that impression to the FIBA Central Board. To show them how big it is here in the Philippines and give them a reason to award it to us.”
The Philippines and China are the two remaining countries vying to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup with the final bid taking place on August 7 in Japan. The bid will be broadcast live and the FIBA Central Board will make its decision right after both countries make their final case.
“They hosted the Olympics already, the Winter Olympics,” Reyes said of China, which will host the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsa, Hunan this September. “We have to prove that we can have 4 world class facilities in the entire country, they have world class facilities in one city.”
“But the fact that we’re here, we’re still standing, says something,” he added. “A lot of wealthier, more economically advanced nations have already been stricken out [such as] Qatar, Germany, and France.”
The Philippines left its mark on the World Cup in Spain with its loud crowd that earned them the Most Valuable Fans award.
In 2012, the Philippines was the top country outside of the US following the NBA on Facebook and Twitter.
The nation’s obsession with basketball has been validated online many times through the years with photos of Filipinos playing the sport on the streets using makeshift rings.
The latest of such validations is a photo circulating on Facebook from The Associated Press of Filipinos playing in knee-deep flood.
#APTOPIX for July 8, 2015, our image selections from the past 24 hours. http://apne.ws/1NL6E4i #Greece #Philippines…Posted by AP Images on Wednesday, 8 July 2015
#PUSO2019 was launched in June with a fan rally at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where PBA stars and local celebrities greeted basketball fans. T-shirts bearing the #PUSO2019 logo were also given away.
Reyes said more activities will take place in line with the campaign in the build-up to August 7. A Facebook page has been set up for fans to get more information on the bid and upcoming events. The conversation is also ongoing on Twitter through the hashtag.
Pep rally held on June 12, 2015, to get the public's support for the Philippines' bid to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.Posted by PUSO 2019 on Sunday, 14 June 2015
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