Sun.Star Cebu

Fiba, SBP conclude first meeting for World Cup 2023 hosting

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PREPARATIO­NS for the Philippine­s’ World Cup hosting next year took another step forward after officials of Fiba and the local organizing committee (LOC) of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) engaged in a weeklong event packed with ocular inspection­s and meetings.

After settling for virtual meetings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SBP and Fiba finally got together and met face to face. The group visited the Mall of Asia Arena, the Philippine Arena and the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to assess the venues and determine the necessary adjustment­s to give delegates and fans the best possible experience.

“It’s all about sharing all the things we’ve learned both from the LOC and Fiba to make sure we’re all on the same page to deliver the best World Cup that we can,” said David Crocker, Fiba World Cup 2023 executive director.

“The wrap-up meeting was a good exchange. We saw many positive opportunit­ies in the Philippine­s and the venues all presented well and we could feel real excitement from the three venues and we’ve got this great base for us to have the best-ever World Cup,” he added.

Crocker had superb things to say about all the venues they were able to visit as all three facilities showcased what they can bring to the table.

“There’s fantastic history at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. It plays such an important role in sports here in the Philippine­s and in the Fiba World Cup as well as it has already hosted qualifying games,” he said. “We’re going to show it in a different light and dress it up in a contempora­ry way so people come in and think that it’s really a beautiful arena.”

The historic Big Dome recently hosted the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers Group matches with the Philippine­s, New Zealand and India.

“The Mall of Asia Arena is a fantastic modern arena where we expect the fans to have a great experience from the time they walk in the door,” Crocker stated about the venue that was home to the 2013 Fiba Asia Championsh­ip and the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“The amazing Philippine Arena has 55,000 seats and we just want that place filled with excited basketball fans so the world can really experience this crazy basketball nation of the Philippine­s,” he said.

Aside from the ocular inspection of the venues, Fiba officials also aligned with the SBP about other important matters such as the hotels that could host the thousands of delegates expected to fly in.

The weeklong event was concluded with a debriefing held at the Marriott Hotel before the Fiba officials wrapped up their short visit to the Philippine­s.

“Fiba sent in officials from different department­s such as marketing, operations, commercial, legal and broadcast and then we mirrored each department with our own people in the LOC. The inspection was all about gauging our readiness to host the World Cup,” said SBP executive director and FIBA World Cup 2023 event director Sonny Barrios.

“The preparatio­ns are not yet perfect but we picked up a lot of learnings and the Fiba officials saw a lot of positives from what we prepared. I’m very upbeat. We still have a lot of work to do to guarantee the best end result possible,” he added.

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