It was 1978 that the Philippines last hosted and played the FIBA World Championship (now restyled as the FIBA World Cup). It was only this year that the #puso phenomenon propelled the rag-tag squad of small-ball PBA players to great heights by qualifying to the prestigious tournament in Spain (apparently, the 1986 squad powered by naturalized players Arthur "Chip" Engelland, Dennis Still and Jeff Moore did). But after five futile and closely-fought games, Gilas Pilipinas has only won one game. Now we have to look forward into the future and plan our next move if we want to play again in the world stage.
We have to start preparing by bringing in more young, up-and-coming and potential players for our national team. More emphasis on height, speed and experience would mean developing homegrown talents, getting tall Fil-foreign players, better naturalized import and better coaching game plans to beat the world's best. We have to realize that playing in the World Cup would mean that we need to have a good crowd support (which we already have) at home.
Speaking of home court advantage, it is already known that SBP head honcho Manny Pangilinan has already clinched a favorable position in FIBA and made it known that the Philippines will bid to host the next FIBA World Cup. Becoming the host of this tournament brings a tremendous advantage to a team and we saw that in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship wherein we clinched silver behind eventual champions Iran. But to make our chances even better, a talented and competitive team is needed and we have 5 year to prepare for it. Our neighbors have become stronger from the traditional powerhouses China, South Korea and Iran to the up-and-coming India. Even the Middle Eastern teams have become more competitive than ever before. We may have made it to the big stage but we have to qualify all over again! There should be a change in outlook and the way we do things.
Basketball is the only sport in the Philippines that has a massive following and losing out to this important tournament is really unthinkable. Successfully hosting the event is a must!
Hosting a big tournament is not only costly but also problematic for a country that has a lot of problems to deal with. Do we have world-class venues that can host such games? Is our transportation network enough to conveniently bring players and fans from around the world to watch the games without issue? Is our security enough to mitigate terrorism and other threats?
These are some of the questions that Mr. Pangilinan and his team has to figure out if we want to have a memorable tournament here. No more PLDT Practice Lang Daw Talaga fiasco this time around!
|Inside the Philippine Arena|
How will teams qualify to the tournament?
A total of 32 national teams will compete at the World Cup: 12 from FIBA Europe, 7 from FIBA Americas, 7 from FIBA Asia / FIBA Oceania, 5 from FIBA Africa, and the host national team. In contrast with the 2014 edition, the Olympic champions will not qualify directly, and no wild cards will be given.
The continental championships will no longer belong to the qualification system for the World Cup. Instead, two rounds of continental qualifying tournaments will be held over two years.
The first round of the Americas, Asia / Oceania and Africa qualifiers will feature 16 teams each, whereas Europe will have 32 teams. Division A teams will be split in groups of four, to be held in a home-and-away round-robin. The top three teams in each groups will advance to round two, and last placed teams will play the best Division B teams to qualify for the next season's Division A.
In round two of the World Cup qualifiers, teams will be split in groups of six, totaling four groups in Europe and four in the other qualifiers. Teams will carry over the points from round one, and face another three teams again in a home-and-away round-robin. The best teams in each group will qualify for the World Cup.
|Full-house at the SM Mall of Asia Arena|
How do we see a FIBA World Cup hosted in the Philippines would look like?
Well, the venues would be the first thing we have to think about. Since FIBA has increased the number of teams that will play in the tournament with qualifying rounds now involving home and away series it would be exciting to see a Philippine team playing against the visitors at jampacked Philippine Arena with record-setting attendance of 55,000 people! Group stages will be probably held in and around Metro Manila and possibly outside of the capital.
The tournament will probably have eight groups of four and the top two teams will play in the next round. Group stages will be probably be held at the following arenas: the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the SM Mall of Asia Arena, the planned SM Seaside City Arena in Cebu, and Philsports Arena. The next rounds would be held between the MOA Arena and the massive Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. If the organizers would have more games in the provinces then it should be held at upgraded arenas of existing basketball venues like those in General Santos City, Bacolod, Naga and Laoag. I'm not sure if the rumored Kingdome of Davao City would be a good basketball venue!
Knockout games will eliminate most of the teams until one team will have the Naismith Trophy (most likely the United States, although there has been debate as to the idea that they will let younger NBA players to play in order to even the playing field). The Philippines would probably make it to the knockout rounds if we choose the right bracket but with attendance at stake, it would be unthinkable to have the host country eliminated early.
|Will Cebuanos be able to see an NBA-starred USA team play?|
Realistically, we won't win the World Cup but we are definitely capable of hosting such an important sporting event. Time will tell if this will come into fruition.