Preparation for FIBA World Cup hosting progressing, says SBP

THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is steadily communicating with different partners, including officials from co-hosts Japan and Indonesia, in laying the groundwork for the staging of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, said SBP President Al S. Panlilio. — FIBA

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

NOTWITHSTANDING the challenges presented by the pandemic, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) assured preparation for the country’s hosting of the 2023 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Basketball World Cup is progressing.

Speaking on the Power & Play radio program on Saturday, SBP President Al S. Panlilio shared that the local federation is steadily communicating with different partners, including officials from co-hosts Japan and Indonesia, in laying the groundwork for the staging of the quadrennial basketball spectacle.

“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. Our objective is to host the best World Cup,” said Mr. Panlilio, who is also first vice-president of the Philippine Olympic Committee.

The SBP official went on to say that for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, their thrust is to provide the best fan experience possible.

“China hosted successfully built around technology and the venues and all of that. We want to push technology, of course, with our own initiatives and in our own way, but we want to have the best fan experience for 2023,” said Mr. Panlilio.

“Hopefully, by that time vaccines are in excess and travel restrictions are already lifted so we can have a ‘normal’ World Cup with the fans in attendance,” he added.

The 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup is scheduled to take place from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 with the Group Phase taking place in all three host countries, and the Final Phase of the tournament happening in the Philippines.

Thirty-two national teams are set to compete in the high-profile tournament.

In winning the hosting job, Philippines-Japan-Indonesia won over the joint bid of Argentina and Uruguay in 2017.

Meanwhile, Mr. Panlilio expressed his displeasure over the recent “game-fixing” controversy in a newly launched regional basketball league.

“I was aghast with that incident. It’s completely disrespecting the game that a lot of us love. Even FIBA will frown on this,” said the SBP official of the game between ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu City Heroes and Siquijor Mystics last week in the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup.

Said game was marred by “questionable” free throw shooting and botched wide-open fastbreak layups, raising red flags for possible illegal activities by participants.

League officials and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) immediately took action and stopped the contest midway and conducted an investigation.

After assessment, the league moved to expel and ban the Mystics for wrongdoing and fined and suspended some members of the Heroes for conduct detrimental to the league.

The GAB is also in the process of studying the matter further for possible sanctions on those involved.

For the SBP, Mr. Panlilio said they will conduct their own probe and issue sanctions if needed.

“We’re just checking our bylaws and seeing what sanctions we can give them. I have asked SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios and Operations Director Butch Antonio to look into this, investigate what happened here because this is not acceptable, in any sport, honestly,” he said.

Adding, “There are only a few privileged people to play basketball professionally and they have to show responsibility and show the youth how to play the right way. It is also terrible for the sponsors as this can destroy their brand. There is nothing good about the situation.”