MANUEL Velez Pangilinan is the Most Valuable Patron.
Two Sundays ago, Ateneo defeated La Salle in a thrilling Game 3 finale of the UAAP. It was the 23rd championship for their men’s basketball squad (14 in NCAA and 9 with the UAAP).
The main backer of the Blue Eagles?
Just days later, the announcement the basketball world was awaiting was revealed: together with Indonesia and Japan, our very own Philippines will be hosting the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
The main backer of this event?
Six years from now, imagine Steph Curry, Paul George, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving representing Team USA. Or Giannis Antetokounmpo leading Greece. How about the likes of Andrew Wiggins (Canada), Rudy Gobert (France), Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia) and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka of Spain? Best of all: the Philippines is guaranteed a slot in the 32-nation tournament.
I got the chance last Saturday to sit beside Bong Ravena. We watched the successful Ateneo Lady Eagles vs. Creamline Cool Smashers volleyball exhibition game hosted by USJ-R and organized by Dean Wong. A former PBA star, Bong Ravena was ecstatic after his son Thirdy’s MVP performance with Ateneo. But what got Bong very excited was the prospect of his boys Keifer and Thirdy suiting up for Team PHL in the 2023 world championships.
Manny V. Pangilinan first tried to get the Philippines to host the 2019 World Cup. Two years ago in Japan, he led our delegation in the final presentation to the jurors. But it wasn’t meant to be. FIBA awarded the hosting to China. Disappointed by the loss but never one to give up, MVP decided to make another attempt, this time for 2023. And to make the bid stronger, instead of bidding by our lonesome, we solicitated the partnership of Japan and Indonesia.
The result? In the final outcome last Dec. 10, our triumvirate defeated the Argentina-Uruguay bid.
The 2023 FIBA World Cup will be one of the biggest ever sporting events that we’ll host. If not THE biggest. If we do some recollection, we hosted some major events. In 1954, the Asian Games was held in Manila. The Southeast Asian Games we have hosted in 1981, 1991 and 2005. We will once again host the SEA Games in 2019. There was the “Thrilla in Manila” when Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Frazier on October 1, 1975. But nothing compares to what’s coming in 2023.
Japan and Indonesia will host eight nations apiece in the qualifying rounds. We will host 16. And here’s the best news: starting the quarterfinal round and moving to the semis and the finals, every game in those knockout stages will be held in Manila.
Mall Of Asia (MOA) Arena. Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Philippine Arena. These three venues will be stages for the games of the planet’s best ballers. The finals? It will be held in the 52,000-seater Philippine Arena.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on December 17, 2017.
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