That was the battle cry of the consortium in its formal presentation of the Philippines’s bid to host the 2023 World Cup of the governing body of basketball, the Federation Internationale de Basketball (FIBA).
This slogan was based on the bid’s features of simplicity, diversity and security.
Recently, the Samahan Basketbol ng Pilipinas or SBP, the national sports association (NSA) for basketball in the Philippines, headed by its Chairman Emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan, made the bid presentation before a three-person FIBA Evaluation Commission that visited the country for this purpose.
Other SBP officials who accompanied MVP in the presentation were SBP President Al Panlilio and SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios.
The presentation host was none other than the reigning Binibining Pilipinas Universe, Rachel Peters.
The bid consortium was made up of the SBP, the Japanese Basketball Association, and the Indonesian Basketball Association.
The visiting FIBA Evaluation Commission was made up of FIBA Central Board members Hamane Niang of Mali and Ingo Weiss of Germany, as well as FIBA Senior Consultant Lubomir Kotleba of Slovakia.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano was also part of the team that gave the presentation, constantly stressing that the Duterte administration supports the bid. Aside from having the basic infrastructure in place, what sets this bid apart from others is the Filipinos passion for the game and its world-renowned hospitality.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, despite his hectic schedule, met with the visiting Commission. In that courtesy call, President Duterte expressed in no uncertain terms his support for the bid.
Secretary Christopher “Bong” Go — who, unknown to the general public, is a certified basketball aficionado and accomplished player (a 3-point artist in the tradition of Stephen Curry, Ray Allen or Larry Bird) — was, together with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, instrumental in making the call happened.
A brilliant political strategist who understands the people’s pulse, the President knows how sports, especially basketball, unifies the nation. One can just recall how the country comes to a standstill during a Manny Pacquiao fight.
Meantime, Executive Secretary Medialdea met the Commission several times during their stay here, a clear sign of the Philippine government’s support for the Philippine bid.
I was present at the formal bid presentation at the Conrad Hotel together with Maynilad President and incoming Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Chair Ramoncito Fernandez, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) President Butch Meily, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, MVP Sports Foundation Executive Director and Sports 5 – ESPN 5 Head Patricia Bermudez Hizon, and SMART’s Julie Carceller, among others.
The atmosphere was a bit tense, perhaps brought about by memories of a recent bid in Tokyo for the 2019 World Cup. We were so close back then, but China’s infrastructure dominance swayed the decision in their favor. I still vividly recall shaking the hands of the legendary Yao Ming, who was magnanimous in victory .
The formal presentation itself was calm, cool, and composed, but not bereft of passion , which is the MVP way. He spoke highly of the Filipino passion for basketball and how, in the end, basketball will get a big boost in this part of the world if the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan are given this opportunity. Al Panlilio, while echoing the message of MVP, went into the details of the bid.
Indeed, who would have thought that the sport invented by James Naismith in 1891 at Springfield, Massachusetts would be the top player and spectator sport in the Philippines.
All in all, it was an excellent presentation. FIBA will announce the winning bidder during the Central Board meeting in Switzerland on December 09.
Till that time comes, my Kababayan and Ka-basketball: #PUSO #LabanPilipinas!