FIBA: Philippines tugs at heartstrings, China boasts progress

MANILA, Philippines – Two Asian countries made their final pitch on Friday, August 7, for the prestige to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

The Philippines and China faced the FIBA Central Board Friday, August 7 in Tokyo, Japan, for the right to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup. And like their marked cultural differences, their presentations were of polar opposites.

The board will announce its decision at 6 pm Friday (Manila time).

The Philippines aimed to tug at the Board's and viewers' heartstrings, showing them the "Philippine basketball story" with images, videos and testimonies about how basketball is weaved tightly into the cultural fabric of Filipinos.

Presenters for the Philippine pitch were business tycoon and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan; Filipino Hollywood actor Lou Diamond Phillips; former national team player Jimmy Alapag; and former national team head coach Chot Reyes.

The Philippine presentation highlighted "the things you can't manufacture" in the Philippines, such as the atmosphere of a World Cup and the natural affinity of Filipinos for basketball, which it said can bring in crowds and convert thousands more.

Retired player Alapag, considered an icon of national team Gilas Pilipinas, shared the passion he experienced first-hand over the years and talked about what "puso" or heart means to Filipinos.

"For us, there is no bigger dream than to host the World Cup," the 37-year old Alapag said. "We have the capability. But we also have something unique: One country, an entire nation waiting to welcome the world."

PASSION. Former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes spoke with much passion as he presented in the 2019 FIBA World Cup final bid.

Screengrab from FIBA YouTube account

Free social media

The Philippines also did not let go of the opportunity to hit China where it hurts most: lack of social media freedom.

While already known as the social media capital of the world, the Philippines showed tangible proof of how far the FIBA World Cup can go if hosted in its shores as Alapag flashed a live feed of the online conversation for the hashtag #PUSO2019.

The hashtag broke into the worldwide trending topic on Twitter right before the Philippines' presentation and has since zoomed to the top spot.

"The conversation is already starting," Alapag said.

Aside from its immense passion for the game, the Philippines said it is capable of mounting the event, as it presented its world-class hotels and arenas such as the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay where the 2013 NBA Global Games was held, and the 55-000 seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, which is the world's largest indoor arena.

They also did not fail to put the spotlight on the Philippines' culture and cuisine as well as its open and inclusive nature.

The only explicit promise made during the Philippine presentation was a vow that if given the chance to host, the 2019 FIBA centerpiece will be "the most memorable and most shared World Cup."

"Our passion is a given," Phillips said as he closed the presentation. "This is not just another major global sporting event for us. This is the event."

Members of the FIBA Central Board include Horacio Muratore, FIBA President; Patrick Baumann, Secretary Genreal; and Ingo Weiss, Treasurer. A full list of members can be found here

Modern nation

China, on the other hand, put together a presentation that amplified its strengths and at the same time exposed the Philippines' major weaknesses.

The Chinese presentation, dubbed "More than ever," was about its status as a modern global nation with its world-class infrastructure and facilities sufficient to mount an event as large as the FIBA World Cup.

They are eyeing 8 cities as venues for the event should they win the bid. They backed that up right away with proof of modern transportation such as bullet trains for convenient transfer from city to city.

China did not miss their own chance to boast high-class hotels for accommodation that they claim are fit for big basketball players such as their own 7-foot-6 Yao Ming.

"You will be treated like a star," said Xu Jichang, China's basketball media and planning expert.

China gave the board a rundown of the large-scale sporting events that it has hosted such as the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.

Their presentation was also peppered with vows to "deliver on every single promise."

"More basketball. More promotion. China is one of the largest commercial consumptions in the world," said Goe Zhidan, vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

Former NBA player and 2019 Ambassador Yao Ming capped off China's presentation, taking a basketball and handing it over to FIBA President Horacio Muratore.

"If China will host the 2019 World Cup, I know our game will flourish," Yao Ming declared. "Today, the ball is in your court."

China's presenters were Yu Zaiqing, Vice President of the International Olympic Committee and President of the Chinese Basketball Association; Zhang Jiandong, Vice Mayor of Beijing; Xu Jichang, Basketball Media and Planning Expert; Gao Zhidan, Vice President of the Chinese Olympic Committee; and Yao Ming, China 2019 Ambassador. – Rappler.com