Eala eyes World Cup task force

Photograph Courtesy of PSC PSC chairperson Jose Emmanuel ‘Noli’ Eala (fourth from left) and SBP executive director Sonny Barrios (fifth from left) plot how the government can help in the country’s hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Also shown are John Lucas, Jude Turcuato, Olivia ‘Bong’ Coo, Erika Dy, Richard Bachmann and Atty. Aga Francisco.

September 9, 2022

Jose Emmanuel “Noli” Eala has yet to warm up as chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, but he is already looking for a way to help the country come up with a successful hosting of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

A reliable Daily Tribune source yesterday said Eala is planning to put up a task force that will help the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas come up with a successful hosting of the prestigious basketball event set from 25 August to 10 September next year.

The source said Eala bared his plan with World Cup event director Sonny Barrios, deputy event director Erika Dy and division chief for operations Richard Bachmann in a meeting late Wednesday at the PSC main office in Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

Also present in the 90-minute discussion that aimed to iron out the collaboration between the SBP and the government sports agency were World Cup local organizing committee member Jude Turcuato, SBP legal consultant Atty. Aga Francisco, operations chief John Lucas, and sports commissioner Olivia “Bong” Coo.

“Chairman Eala said he is planning to put together a task force within the PSC that will directly coordinate with the World Cup hosting,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Nothing is final as of now, but he was serious in his idea of putting up a task force within the PSC that will help the SBP in its World Cup hosting.”

Eala’s involvement in the pet project of the SBP didn’t come as a surprise.

After all, the 59-year-old PSC chief served as Barrios’ predecessor as SBP executive director and was the project director of the original Smart Gilas squad.

Eala formed a national team composed of the country’s best amateur players like Chris Tiu, JV Casio, Mark Barroca, Aldrech Ramos and Marcio Lassiter and powered it with an American reinforcement with noted Serbian coach Rajko Toroman as tactician.

Prior to that, he served as broadcaster of the Philippine Basketball Association before becoming its commissioner in 2002.

As PBA commissioner, Eala introduced a handful of innovations, including legendary Crispa-Toyota Reunion Game and inclusion of foreign teams to spice up the tournaments.

Now that he is already with the PSC, Eala is leading the call for Filipinos to support the federation in its hosting of the World Cup — the biggest and most prestigious basketball event outside the Summer Olympics.

Aside from the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia will also be hosting 32-nation tournament.

“I encourage everyone, not just the basketball-loving Filipinos, to support the country’s hosting of the World Cup, which gives so much pride for the Philippines being one of the hosts, and stay behind our very own Gilas Pilipinas team,” Eala, who was formally appointed as PSC chief two weeks ago, said in a statement.

Turcuato lauded Eala’s support, saying that a successful World Cup hosting should be a collective effort not only by the people involved but by the entire country as well.

“I think people are starting to realize that we all need to chip in and focus on hosting now that it’s less than a year away,” said Turcuato, also the Smart head of sports.

“That’s why everybody realized that we should step up. I think everybody agrees on this because we might never get this in our lifetime again that we’re hosting something this big.”

He added that the PSC’s support is very crucial to the success of the country’s World Cup hosting.

“What we talked about was the World Cup next year,” he added.

“I think the general thing was how the public and private sector can work closer together to make sure the hosting of the World Cup will be world-class.”

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