Article by: Kayla Uytengsu
Photo from: wikipedia.org
Basketball is most definitely embedded in the hearts of Filipinos. According to GMA news, 80 percent of all Filipino sports enthusiasts are fans of basketball. The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) prides itself in being the first ever recognized professional basketball league outside of the USA’s National Basketball Association (NBA). The Philippines is constantly teeming with basketball fans, with the sport officially named as the most popular in the country to date. Despite the rapturous love for basketball, earlier this month on August 7th, the Philippines lamentably lost the bid to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup to its single competitor, China.
FIBA, commonly known as the International Basketball Federation, hosts the World Cup every four years. The latest tournament was held in Spain in 2014, and consisted of 24 national teams. Similar to the Olympics, bids are made by nations to host the tournament, and votes are cast to determine a winner. Following the announcement that the 2019 FIBA World Cup was to be held in Asia, China and the Philippines quickly became the two most serious contenders. The Philippines was outvoted 14-7, and consequently now comes the time for Filipinos to ask why.
When comparing the two, it is apparent that China had the upper hand in almost every logistical aspect. FIBA stated that they looked at four major areas when deciding which country should host the tournament: vision and concept, experience, basketball history, and cities and venues. With China having hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2010 Asian Games, they have more than ample infrastructure to handle an event like the FIBA World Cup. China also has eight cities that have world class venues capable of hosting athletes and spectators. Additionally, travel throughout the country would be easy with the four international airports, as well as China’s first class train system.
Upon evaluating Philippine potential, FIBA concluded the Philippines could only offer two approved venues: Mall of Asia Arena and Philippine Arena. The Smart Araneta Coliseum was not approved as it would need to undergo expensive renovations. In addition, the Philippines does not have an established train system or adequate airport, making transportation for all of the players, fans, officials, and press a greater challenge. In conclusion, the Philippines simply was not ready to host an international competition of such caliber.
Perhaps the better bet is for the Philippines to focus on hosting smaller events such as the SEA Games which it has already successfully hosted three times. As for now, a noteworthy international sporting event coming to the Philippines in August of 2016 is the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships, which will be hosted in Cebu. Until then, the Philippines can wish the best of luck to its Gilas Pilipinas (National Basketball Team) as they head to the Jones Cup in Taiwan this September.