MANILA – The Philippines will host the FIBA Asia championship for the first time in 40 years, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced yesterday.
FIBA Asia transferred the site of the prestigious basketball tournament from Beirut to Manila, in light of the volatile situation in Lebanon which originally won the right to host the tournament this year.
The FIBA Asia championship, which will serve as the qualifying tournament to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Madrid, will be held from August 1 to 11 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
After tireless backdoor channeling and top level boardroom negotiations, the SBP managed to convince the FIBA-Asia Executive Committee to consider the country’s bid laid down last year in Tokyo.
Four months ago, a delegation from the Philippines led by SBP president Manny Pangilinan flew to Tokyo to present to top FIBA Asia executives, including Secretary-General Hagop Khajirian, why the country is the best place to host the prestigious event.
The vote went to Lebanon, however, with the understanding that the Philippines will be considered should the Middle East country be unable to prepare for the event for whatever reason.
Late last Thursday, after an earlier visit by Khajirian to inspect the SM Mall of Asia Arena and weeks of email communication between FIBA Asia and SBP, the country was finally granted hosting rights.
This means that long-time Asian rivals South Korea and Japan, Chinese-Taipei, the Middle Eastern and Gulf bloc, and powerhouse China will be coming over to do battle with the PBA-backed Smart Gilas Pilipinas under coach Chot Reyes for the right to represent Asia in Spain.
Three slots for Asia are up for grabs.
”SBP is pleased to accept this rare privilege of hosting the FIBA Asia Championship, a similar event we last hosted 40 years ago," said Pangilinan.
”Much hard work lies ahead in organizing this event, but we will do our best to make it successful. It is time to unite Philippine basketball to achieve our goal of entering the World Championship in Spain in 2014,” Pangilinan added.
Two other SBP officials who had a direct hand in persuading FIBA Asia to make the switch share the sentiment.
"This is a hosting of the Philippines - not just SBP. SBP President Manny Pangilinan want us to put our best foot forward and make the Filipino proud by organizing an event of the highest international standards," SBP vice chairman and local organizing committee chair Ricky Vargas said.
Forty years ago, the Philippines hosted the 7th edition of the tournament, then known as Asian Basketball Confederation Championship.
The Philippines won the 7th edition behind Robert Jaworski, Bogs Adornado, Ramon Fernandez, Manny Paner and Big Boy Reynoso under head coach Valentin Eduque.*PNA
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