MANILA, Philippines — The country is “95 percent ready” for its historic hosting of the Fiba World Cup 2023 with 10 days to go before the opener at Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan and Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The local organizing committee (LOC) made the assessment as it makes crucial finishing touches to the country’s preparations for basketball’s biggest stage.
“I would say we’re at 95 percent. So we’re almost there but it should be noted that the last five percent is similar to the last two minutes of a basketball game. Meaning, even if it’s just five percent of a 40-minute game, it’s the most important two minutes. So I think that’s what we have to keep in mind,” said Erika Dy, the Deputy Event Director of the Fiba World Cup 2023, on Tuesday in the special edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
“We’re almost in plug-and-play mode, we’ve entered the venues already so we have it under our care at this point and we’re setting it up to meet the standards that Fiba is expecting of us. That’s where we are right now,” she added.
Dy bared that the LOC has started setting up the new basketball backboards, competition lights, scoreboards, and flooring as well as sorting plans for the traffic situations from hotels to the game venues.
“It’s really setting it up already. We have all the materials, most of them were pre-fabricated, so it’s a matter of installing these items on the court,” she said.
“Obviously we have a ten-day period to do that because we can’t do that all at the same time. One has to come after the other, there’s an order to follow so that’s what we are doing at this point.”
NEW LOOK VENUES
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio is pleased with the progress of the LOC 10 days before hosting 16 of the top 32 basketball squads, who are heading to the country for the group stages.
“Aside from just the courts being completed, I think the venues will be exciting in terms of how it looks. It will be very different from how you’ve seen basketball in the Philippines so aside from that the court being completed hopefully by the next few days,” Panlilio said. “We’re really ready in terms of the hotels, in terms of the transportation requirements, in terms of the flight bookings of everybody.”
“They’re just constructing the tribunes, all the sites in the venue, and the last thing that they’re gonna put would be the floor and that should be completed towards the latter part of the week,” he added. “Parang project management ang construction. It’s really well-planned out naman across the three venues.”
The Philippines is eyeing to fill up the 55,000-capacity Philippine Arena when Gilas Pilipinas, led by NBA star Jordan Clarkson, opens its Group A campaign against the Dominican Republic, bannered by Karl Anthony Towns.
Mall of Asia Arena and Smart Araneta Coliseum will also house the other group stage games in the country, while co-hosts Japan and Indonesia will hold their own preliminaries before the final phase turns to the Pasay venue.
Aside from the star-studded USA team, among the NBA stars poised to see action in Manila are Bogdan Bogdanovic for Serbia and naturalized player Kyle Anderson for China.
Luka Doncic for Slovenia, NBA champion Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for Canada, Juan Hernangomez for defending champion Spain, Lauri Markkanen (Finland), Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier (France), Dennis Schroder and Franz Wagner (Germany), and Josh Giddey and Patty Mills (Australia) have also committed to playing in the World Cup.
Panlilio said members of the Fiba working staff are already in the country as pre-World Cup events will be held starting next week, beginning with a welcome dinner on Monday for the delegates of the different basketball federations who will be attending the Fiba National Congress set on Aug, 22 and 23 at the Sofitel Hotel.
On Aug. 23, the Fiba will be holding its Hall of Fame ceremony, where the country’s very own Caloy Loyzaga is going to be enshrined.
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