FIBA World Cup

Tab Baldwin says historic Araneta Coliseum makes for ‘special’ FIBA World Cup

Delfin Dioquino

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Tab Baldwin says historic Araneta Coliseum makes for ‘special’ FIBA World Cup


Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin says the Big Dome offers a rich history compared to newer venues overseas as it serves as one of the Philippines' three hosting spots for the FIBA World Cup

MANILA, Philippines – There is something about the Araneta Coliseum that makes it a “special” site for the FIBA World Cup.

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said the Big Dome offers a rich history compared to newer venues overseas as it serves as one of the Philippines’ three hosting spots for the World Cup alongside the Mall of Asia Arena and Philippine Arena.

Baldwin, who guided New Zealand to its best World Cup performance when it finished fourth in 2002, has been to so many editions of the global hoops showdown to know the difference.

“I’ve been to four world championships and one Olympics, all the brand-new arenas, sometimes they’re a little bit sterile,” said Baldwin, whose Blue Eagles’ notched a 90-85 win over the Letran Knights in a World Cup test run at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, June 28. 

“To come here and really feel the history that this building represents and possesses, I think it is something special.”

Despite being the oldest out of the Philippines’ three hosting venues, the 63-year-old Big Dome is unmatched when it comes to hosting monumental events. 

At the top of that list is the Thrilla in Manila in 1975 that saw boxing legend Muhammad Ali beat Joe Frazier via corner stoppage after 14 action-packed rounds.

Baldwin has his fingers crossed that FIBA will put that history in display for the World Cup. 

“Araneta is an iconic building. It is a historic building. I just hope the organizers would allow us to keep the Thrilla in Manila sign up and allow this great arena to be what it is everyday to the Filipino community and enjoy the iconic nature of it,” Baldwin said.

The Philippines will host 16 of the 32 participating nations in the group stage, with Groups A and B playing at the Araneta Coliseum and Groups C and D seeing action at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Bunched in Group A, Gilas Pilipinas will play its World Cup opener against Dominican Republic at the Philippine Arena before it faces Italy and Angola for the rest of its group stage matches at the Araneta Coliseum.

Once the best eight teams are determined, the Mall of Asia Arena will host the final stage, including the championship game. 

“There is no reason that we should not have a great experience,” said Baldwin. 

“I got a lot of friends in the international community, I know a lot of them are excited about coming to Manila, to the Philippines. This is kind of the informal home of basketball because of the passion of the population.” –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.