World Cup hosting draws support

A pair of lawmakers are leading the call for the country’s successful hosting of the FIBA World Cup.

Senators Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Sonny Angara threw their all-out support, saying that Filipinos should come together and rally behind the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and its hosting of the World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September next year.

This is the first time for the country to host the prestigious tournament since 1978.

Aside from the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia will also serve as hosts but bulk of the games — 40 games in total — will be staged in the country with the final round booked at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The federation stressed that the World Cup is more than just a basketball event. It is also an investment opportunity as its last staging in China in 2019 raked in a total of P17 billion revenue for the tourism industry.

Go said it is time for Filipinos — from ranking basketball officials down to ordinary fans — to throw their full support to Gilas Pilipinas and the World Cup hosting.

“Me as a legislator, I’m here to support the SBP and the Philippine Sports Commission,” said Go, an avid basketball fan who once served as delegation head of Gilas Pilipinas.

“Our hope is for us to have a successful staging. Me as head of the committee of sports in Senate will support not only basketball, but all fields of sports. That is part of my objective.”

But hosting the World Cup comes with a price.

In fact, the SBP is seeking financial support amounting to P1.5 billion from the government to help cover the P3.7-billion budget for the country’s World Cup hosting.

SBP vice chairperson Ricky Vargas said the government’s share in the budget will be used to cover operating expenses such as accommodation, security, transportation and allowance of volunteers.

If approved by the Senate, the budget will be coursed through the PSC, which is being led by a former SBP executive in Jose Emmanuel “Noli” Eala.

“We are seeking the help of the government in a way where we think that there will be values for what money they will give us in terms of values that would redound to the economy as well,” Vargas said during a Senate hearing on the budgets of the PSC and Games and Amusement Board recently.

Angara, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, agrees with Go and Vargas, saying that the country will greatly benefit if the federation successfully pulls off the World Cup hosting.

“Definitely, there’s a big budget needed for 2023,” Angara, also the chairman of the SBP, said.

“But let’s work together for the budget needed because we’re not just speaking about hundreds of millions but billions. But look at the returns to the host country in 2014 in Spain and 2019 in China.
The returns were tens of billions of dollars in terms of tourism revenue, in terms of exposure.”

Angara said the entire country should help support the World Cup hosting.

“What we need is the whole government approach or whole of society, whole of country approach,” Angara said.

“Not just the agency of the government, but we need the entire nation’s support in staging this huge event happening in our country.”

Angara said the best players in the world will be making their way to Manila to fight for pride and glory.

The country will be represented by National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson, National Basketball League standout Kai Sotto and a slew of Philippine Basketball Association players while the United States will surely be bringing in its big guns like LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Jason Tatum.

On the other hand, Serbia will be bannered by former NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic while Spain will have brothers Willy and Juancho Hernangomez as well as veteran Rudy Fernandez, Slovenia will be led by rising star Luka Doncic and Greece by reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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