The Philippine delegation that batted for the country's successful 2023 FIBA World Cup hosting bid.
MANILA, Philippines — A major tweak in the presentation bid. A change of scenery. A different kind of ending.
When the Philippines’ lost the bid for the hosting of the 2019 FIBA World Cup to China during a presentation in Tokyo last August 7, 2015, the Filipinos retreated to their hotel feeling sad and distraught.
“We felt we had won the bid,” recounted Alfredo S. Panlilio; president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas of that day. “In fact, we still feel that way.”
The Philippine delegation returned to its hotel in Tokyo, and the atmosphere was one of sadness.
“At that time, we all thought that the next shot we could get at hosting was 2027,” added Panlilio. “MVP (SBP Chairman Emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan) joked, ‘ang tatanda na natin niyan? Kaya pa ba natin?’”
As the story goes, like a phoenix from the ashes…
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The next opportunity to bid presented itself and the SBP leaped at the opportunity.
“We just needed to learn from our mistakes,” added federation executive director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios. “We looked at how China won it and it was from a technical standpoint. So how do we adjust and compensate for that? We studied a lot of things and asked how to make everything better this second time around.”
The inspiration for the renewed bid came from the world’s most popular sport — football. The 2002 FIFA World Cup in particular wherein Japan and South Korea jointly hosted the sport’s premier event.
“It was MVP who thought about the joint hosting,” revealed Panlilio. “We were in a meeting in Hong Kong and initially it was with Indonesia and Singapore. But we received some advice from FIBA to maybe look into including Japan. And they were only too happy to participate.”
The result was a bid that was infinitely more compelling — to make a mark in what is considered as a region dominated by football with the promise of growth for basketball, the potential to smash attendance records, the varying cultures and the opportunity to put on the best show for the sport.
After Russia and Turkey pulled out of the bid due to other concerns, the bid came down to the Philippines-Indonesia-Japan bloc and the Argentina-Uruguay partnership.
The compelling bid?
Undoubtedly a winner.
“We liked our chances in 2015,” shared Panlilio of the presentation bid in Geneva last Saturday, December 9. “We liked it even better now. But we were optimistically cautious. Mahirap na.”
This time, when FIBA President Horacio Muratore announced that the winner was the Philippines-Indonesia-Japan bloc it was of elation. An understatement actually.
“We were very happy but within minutes, our minds began to work — what’s next?” added Panlilio. “In fact, Sonny Barrios immediately began to talk to FIBA’s technical person about what’s next. He told us to relax and enjoy our Christmas.”
“It was a good win,” added Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who was represented by his sister, Congresswoman Pia Cayetano. “But the word that popped into my mind was ‘expensive’. This was going to be very expensive. But when this is too good an opportunity to pass up. With every peso that you spend is a peso for an opportunity for our country.”
The Filipino delegation repaired to an Italian restaurant to celebrate along with their Japanese counterparts and Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Evan P. Garcia. “We had a simple Italian dinner and some wine to celebrate,” related the SBP president. “But the feeling was great. Just great. We were all smiles even days after. Winning the bid made the long flight back home even better.”
“By the next year 2018, we are going to sit down with FIBA and begin to plan. And we do need to put together the local organizing committee (LOC). We would like to form a team to learn from what is going to happen in China. We need to send a team over to learn from hosting this event so we can apply that here.”
“Right now, yes, we’ll celebrate. Looking back at it — this is a great gift to the Filipino people.”