Six reasons why Philippines should host the 2023 FIBA World Cup

John Mark Trinidad John Mark Trinidad

Once again, Philippines has another chance to bring back basketball home as it vies for the hosting rights of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The basketball-crazy country is in a joint bid together with Indonesia and Japan which aims to stage the world’s grandest basketball event in Asian soil. On the opposite end, Argentina and Uruguay are in partnership to convince FIBA to host its flagship competition at the land of South America. On December 9, the two candidates will present their proposal to the FIBA Central Board where the official host nation will also be announced.

This marks as the second consecutive attempt of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to get that elusive hosting right as it earlier failed to capture the staging of 2019 FIBA World Cup which the China has won by a 14-7 voting result. Generous basketball patron and SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan is very hopeful and optimistic with the country’s chance this time as he considers winning the prestigious World Cup hosting rights as his ultimate legacy for Philippine basketball.

Since the 2019 edition of the event is to be hosted by an Asian country (China), the South American bid might have the upper edge since it might be difficult to persuade FIBA to grant the hosting right to Asian nations again. However, there are 6 key reasons that should surely convince the world governing body of basketball to finally award the 2023 World Cup hosting to the Philippines (along with Indonesia and Japan).

FILIPINO HOSPITALITY

Influx of thousands of basketball fans, athletes, coaches, and FIBA officials from all over the globe is one daunting challenge a host country must address. There is an obligation to provide comfort and “sense of home” to the visitors while they are staying at the country. This is no sweat for the Filipinos who are distinguished for their world-renowned hospitality.

Aside from good food and rich history, sincere generosity and congeniality is also innately embedded in Filipino culture. If the Philippines bags the hosting right, the guests can expect very warm reception from the moment they step in to the airport up to wherever part of the country they go. FIBA can expect the Filipino’s heart-warming treatment to the visitors and genuine smiles that can inspire and go beyond the television and monitor screens.

HISTORICAL HOSTING CAPABILITY

The Philippines is no stranger to hosting world-class happenings especially FIBA events. It has been able to successfully stage the 1978 FIBA World Championship, three editions of the FIBA Asia Championship (1960, 1973, 2013), and one of the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. In terms of game locations, the country can offer three quality and history-filled game venues. The first one is the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena which has a full house capacity of 20,000. It has previously hosted the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championship and an NBA preseason game. Then, there’s Araneta Coliseum which can accommodate 25,000 sports fans.

Perhaps, the most prominent event it hosted is the “Thrilla in Manila” which featured the culmination of a three-bout rivalry between boxing legends Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier which the former won. Lastly, the country has the massive 52,000-seater Philippine Arena that was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest indoor arena. If FIBA approves the joint bid of the three Asian nations, expect another eminent event that is certainly one for the books.

SELLOUT CROWD

Large playing venues are futile if the host country cannot completely fill it with a mammoth crowd. A sparse live audience is definitely not beneficial for the ticket sales and promotion of the sport. In the Philippines, history can vividly speak the truth that it has the capacity to attract large number of game spectators.

Avid Filipino fans are relentlessly craving to watch basketball action. Just recently, 54,086-strong crowd flocked in the Philippine Arena to watch the Game 7 of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts that broke the record books by resetting a new largest attendance record for a PBA game and for a PBA Finals game. FIBA has a chance to give world basketball a colossal audience it deserves. The Philippines can fulfill it.

BETTER GLOBAL REACH

One central focus of the three-nation joint bid is the essential role of growing and expanding the sport of basketball. Hence, FIBA must choose the co-hosting bid that can offer a viable vehicle that will allow better global reach. Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia has a merged population base of 500 million people compared to the measly combined population of 48 million by Argentina and Uruguay.

Clearly, the diversity and huge population of the three nations can assure FIBA more attention and viewership. FIBA can rely to this 500 million people to deliver the sport of basketball to the rest of the world.

SOCIAL MEDIA

According to the published report “Digital in 2017” by social media management platform Hootsuite and UK-based consultancy We Are Social Ltd., Philippines is the world leader in terms of time spent on social media with an average of 4 hours and 17 minutes spent per day on social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. There’s no denying that the Filipino’s online presence is one of the strongest. FIBA knows it especially in 2015 when #PUSO2019 became a worldwide trend in relation to the Philippines’ bid for hosting the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

This December 9, expect once again the social media power of the Filipinos as SBP launched the three-nation bid’s official slogan: #PlayLouderIn2023. On a marketing perspective, FIBA should realize that social media is an inexpensive tool that can help its brand to expand its reach and encourage new breed of sports audience. FIBA can bank on the social media savvy Filipinos to make 2023 World Cup an instant and everyday online trend.

PASSION FOR THE GAME

It’s no secret that Argentina and Uruguay are both known football nations. Basketball is not really their sport. It’s different for the Philippines where basketball is not just a “sport” but a special part of the Filipino’s culture and identity. Basketball is a way of living, a religion, and an ultimate love for many Filipinos. FIBA knows that the Filipinos are their treasures. They even recognized the unparalleled passion for the support of the Filipinos by awarding them with “Most Valuable Fans in the world” recognition last 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Of all the sports played in the country, basketball will always be king. Go to the narrow streets, there’s basketball. Go to the flooded communities, there’s still basketball. Go to the provinces and even backyards, there will always be a trace of basketball culture. It’s about time to bring basketball’s grand event to a place that can nurture and fight for it. It’s about time to bring back World Cup of basketball to home.

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