A resounding FIBA World Cup hosting success

In 2007, sports patron and prominent business executive Manny V. Pangilinan flew to Geneva to mend the country’s scarred relationship with FIBA when the Philippines was suspended due to a struggle between the Basketball Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Olympic Committee. Over the years, MVP, along with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas or SBP, were able to make amends and formed a strong bond with FIBA.

And as they say, the rest was history.

MVP’s vision to host the FIBA World Cup in a tri-nation bid was approved. The country, together with Japan and Indonesia, was granted to host the 2023 FIBA World Cup, with 32 teams competing for the coveted Naismith trophy for the 2023

Last Sunday, the World Cup curtain finally closed, with several records written, erased, and etched in FIBA history.

First, the expanded World Cup adopted by the organizers successfully achieved a more competitive playing field. Nine of the 32 that came to this World Cup did not play in the previous World Cup.

After two weeks of grueling competition, six of the eight countries that previously entered the quarterfinals in the 2019 World Cup failed to advance to the next round. Argentina, France, Spain, Poland, Australia, and the Czech Republic were eliminated earlier in the group stages, with only the US and Serbia moving to the semi-final round.

Second, for the first time since it participated in the tournament, Germany won the World Cup championship, beating all its opponents in the elimination rounds for an immaculate 7-0 and completing an 8-0 game sweep by beating Serbia in the final, 83-77.

FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis was quoted by AP saying the expanded qualification field “has changed global basketball on the men’s side.”

Third, the three host countries had record-breaking attendance, a rousing success for the tri-nation hosting of the world’s biggest basketball show.

Across 92 games in 15 days in five different venues (three in Manila, one each in Okinawa and Jakarta), Zagklis said the World Cup drew a total of 700,000 fans pending the final numbers from the bronze-medal match between USA and Canada and Serbia-Germany finale.

In the opener on 25 August, the Philippines tallied a World Cup record featuring 38,115 fans who witnessed the thrilling battle between home team Gilas Pilipinas and the Dominican Republic at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The milestone highlighted the Philippines’ hosting and smashed the previous record of 32,616 spectators who watched the gold medal match between the USA and Russia in the 1994 games in Toronto, Canada.

Zaglis was all praises for the three countries, especially the Philippines, whom he described as an excellent host.

“I don’t think it’s easy to find anywhere in the world that has this kind of service to the visitors. Always with a smile and kindness and with a solution-oriented approach. I can only express how grateful FIBA is to the Philippines,” Zaglis said.

SBP president Al S. Panlilio had mixed emotions as the FIBA World Cup ended.

“We have proven that our country can host a global basketball event as huge as the FIBA World Cup. Everyone involved — the local organizing committee, various private and public stakeholders, volunteers, peace and order personnel, traffic enforcers, the LGUs, and basketball-loving Pinoys who bravely trooped to the venues to watch the games — must be congratulated for making the event a whopping success.”

“But there’s also a feeling of extreme bittersweetness as it comes to an end, yet overshadowed by extreme hopefulness for the 2027 World Cup in Qatar,” he added.

Panlilio spearheaded the country’s bid for the multiple-nation hosting of the World Cup along with MVP, SBP chairman emeritus, in 2017.

He acknowledged what MVP did to bring the FIBA World Cup to the Philippines with his creative vision of bidding for multi-nation hosting.

“It was a privilege to help realize that creative vision by collaboratively working with various groups and stakeholders and successfully hosting the World Cup. We are proud of the effort everyone contributed to make this huge undertaking a monumental and amazing feat,” Panlilio said.

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