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MANILA, Philippines – Fans who will watch the opening day of the Philippines’ FIBA World Cup hosting at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Friday, August 25, are in for a treat.
Top local artists have been tapped to perform as pop star Sarah Geronimo and bands The Dawn and Ben&Ben grace the opening ceremony before Gilas Pilipinas begins its World Cup campaign against Dominican Republic.
Geronimo returns as part of a FIBA production for the second time as she also showcased her singing and dancing prowess during the World Cup draw in April at the Araneta Coliseum.
The opening ceremony will be staged after the World Cup opener pitting powerhouse Italy against Angola at 4 pm.
Gilas Pilipinas will then duke it out with Dominican Republic at 8 pm.
Those who will troop to the 55,000-seater venue will also get a chance to become a part of history as the Philippines tries to break the FIBA attendance record that has stood for nearly three decades.
A record crowd of 32,616 watched 1994 World Cup title duel in Toronto, Canada, where Team USA – bannered by NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal, Dominique Wilkins, and Reggie Miller – cruised to a 137-91 rout of Russia.
Set to be part of that potential record-breaking crowd in Bulacan are members of the Philippines’ 1978 World Cup squad, who represented the country the last time it hosted the global hoops showpiece.
Players Padim Israel, Ramon Cruz, Steve Watson, Pol Herrera, Marty Tierra, and Rico Acuña, and assistant coach Nemie Villegas were invited by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio to attend the match.
Simultaneous to the games at the Philippine Arena, World Cup action also starts at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.
Mexico and Montenegro open hostilities at the Mall of Asia Arena at 4:45 pm before Lithuania and Egypt lock horns at 8:30 pm. – Rappler.com