Support crucial to 2023 FIBA, Gilas success

The Philippines is not only expected to reap the benefits of the World Cup in the field of sports, but will hopefully contribute to the country’s revenue generation as well.

I bet basketball fans could no longer hide their excitement as the country’s hosting of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup next year draws closer and closer.

This would mark the second time the Philippines is hosting the event, having organized the first in 1978, and which was represented by our players who were standouts in college and the amateur league at that time, MICAA, following the breakaway of the PBA in 1975. These players include, Ramon Cruz, Bernardo (Joy) Carpio, Alexander Carino, Stephen (Steve) Watson, Eduardo Merced, Federico (Padim) Israel Jr., Federico (Bokio) Lauchengco, Nathaniel (Nael) Castillo, Gregorio (Yoyong) Gozum Jr., Leopoldo (Pol) Herrera, Caesar Yabut, Cesar Teodoro, and coached by the legendary Nicanor Jorge. These names are forever etched in Philippine basketball history.

For next year’s Cup, 32 teams — including our very own Gilas Pilipinas — are set to compete. As the lead host, the Philippines will organize all the quarter finals, semi-finals, and final games featuring the top 8 teams, while Japan and Indonesia will co-host the competition of eight teams each.

The Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas president Alfredo “Al” Panlilio, who is also the Philippine Olympic Committee’s First Vice President — a noted sports leader and a former basketball varsity player of Ateneo and who played for Fuji Soy Sauce at the Philippine Amateur Basketball League or PABL where many of the PBA’s greatest players were produced — said that SBP has already been laying the groundwork for the 2023 FIBA World Cup as early as 2019 in line with its goals to host the best Cup and provide the best fan experience possible.

“We have been working for this since before the World Cup in China in 2019. During this pandemic, we’ve had a lot of virtual meetings. We’ve been having board meetings at the level of MVP (SBP Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan) and the heads of the other host countries the past year. We’ve been discussing the budget and other matters,” he was quoted as saying in a recent interview.

SBP executive director and spokesperson Sonny Barrios added they have also started to reach out to the national government, the Office of the President, the Legislative branch, and most especially the Department of Tourism to help in organizing and hosting the event.

Barrios said they will meet with the country’s private sector, particularly large corporations, such as the MVP Group and SMC, which have been very active in supporting sports competitions.

Newly appointed Philippine Sports Commission chairman Noli Eala also expressed his support in the country’s hosting of the World Cup next year and encouraged Filipinos to support the event.

The public and private sectors have already begun preparations to ensure that the event will go smoothly and safely amid the ongoing pandemic.

The Philippines is not only expected to reap the benefits of the World Cup in the field of sports, but will hopefully contribute to the country’s revenue generation as well.

In fact, a FIBA study showed that when the World Cup was hosted by Spain in 2019 prior to the emergence of Covid-19, it raked in $396 million, or P22.6 billion, in revenues, while only setting an operational budget of $38.6 million, or P2.2 billion.

Based on the study, basketball fans from nearby countries visiting Spain to watch the games spent $82.2 million, or P4.7 billion, in lodging, food, and other personal expenses to cheer for their national teams.

The government of Spain earned $74.3 million, or P4.25 billion, in taxes from hosting the event.

The international sports competition bodes well for the development of our tourism industry, and we need to take advantage of this to promote not only the beauty and wonders of the country, but also the talent and skills of our people in the field of basketball and sports. This event is certainly a venue and chance to bring us back to the world map of places worth visiting.

Whether we are a huge basketball fan or not, our support is crucial to boosting the confidence of our team in representing and winning for our country. Having events as big as this comes once in a lifetime. I was 14 years old when we hosted the World Championships in 1978. I am now nearing my discount years. I will cheer my lungs out for the Philippines just like I did more than 40 years ago — win or lose. It is the least I can do to show support. After all, I am a Filipino.

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