HOSTING a Fiba Asia tournament “doesn’t come every year,” according to the cage body’s secretary general, Hagop Khajirian.
That’s why the Philippines, come Aug. 1 to 11, should take full advantage of the opportunity.
“The Philippines playing in the semifinals (of Fiba Asia), why not? Champion in Fiba Asia, why not?” Khajirian said when he met the press yesterday at the tournament’s venue, the Mall of Asia Arena, in Pasay.
“It doesn’t come every year,” the Lebanese said of the country’s hosting of the event for the first time in 40 years. “Get the best of the best (talents for the event).
“But (success) will come as a result of hard work, and not by luck,” he added. “There’s no luck in winning the championship.”
The tournament serves as the qualifier for the World Basketball Championship in Madrid next year with the top three Asian teams advancing. The country won when it last hosted the tournament, then known as the Asian Basketball Confederation championship, in 1973.
Khajirian, who originally awarded the hosting rights to Lebanon in a meeting in Tokyo last September, came to monitor preparations for the tournament, where 16 of the finest basketball nations in the region are participating.
Khajirian signed the hosting agreement with tycoon and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan on Sunday afternoon, officially making Manila the home of Asia’s biggest basketball show this year.
“First and foremost, we thank Fiba Asia for trusting us with this (hosting),” Pangilinan said. “We are aware of the task in front of us, which is a huge challenge. And we will leave no stone unturned to rise to the occasion.”
Khajirian was joined in yesterday’s news conference by SBP executive director Sonny Barrios and consultant Mauricio Martelino.
“I’m very satisfied with the work they (SBP) have done so far, they have an excellent program,” said Khajirian. “The facilities are good, and we look forward to full-house games, especially in Philippine team games.”
The legendary William “Bogs” Adornado, a member of the 1973 champion PH team, was also present during the launch.
Adornado said the country stands a big chance of coming out on top, even against such powerhouses as China, Iran and South Korea.