SBP willing to shoulder ‘astronomical’ World Cup cost for love of game and country
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has earmarked an “astronomical sum” for its part in the cohosting of the 2023 Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup, the federation’s president told the Inquirer on Thursday, in a bid to fully showcase the country’s passion for the sport.
SBP president Al Panlilio, also the Smart/PLDT president, said no stone will be left unturned during the hosting even as sources within the organizing group told the Inquirer that they are looking to trim the fat off a whopping budget that has ballooned to P1.3 billion.
“It’s for the love of our country and love for our sport,” Panlilio said. “It’s MVP’s (Manny V. Panglinan’s) promise to the nation. Asia might not have a chance to host this event for a long time.”
Panlilio did not release details of how much it would cost the SBP to treat participating countries like royalty, but he said the federation will be using private funds exclusively.
“It’s an astronomical sum that the private sector will take care of,” Panlilio said
“Our country just loves the sport so much,” Panlilio went on. “It will all be private sector money, and we are willing to spend that even without the promise of getting that amount back. Like I said, it’s all for the country and our love for the sport.”
An Inquirer source said the original budget was pegged at P800 million, meant to cover tournament fees and logistics, workforce salaries, and the food, lodging and other needs of visiting teams. All participating countries will only pay for their airfare.
But the total eventually bloated to P1.3 billion with organizers hoping to diet it down to P900 million. So far, the source said, the organizers have already shed off P200 million. That budget only represents expenses the SBP will incur within the Philippines. The federation will still incur more costs internationally.
Meanwhile, Nenad Vucinic was hardly in a mood to pore over any other encouraging signs in the Philippines’ 106-60 beatdown at the hands of New Zealand in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Thursday.
“It’s very hard to find positives with such a heavy loss,” he said shortly after the clash at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. “I don’t think there was any point in focusing on the positives. We have to eliminate the negative things that we had tonight.”
The Nationals were roughed up early in the contest. A laughable second quarter compounded Gilas’ woes, eventually burying them to holes as deep as 46 points and ultimately dooming the Filipinos to a 1-2 record in Group A play.
“A very tough night for this young team,” said Vucinic, who is calling the shots on an interim basis.
The Philippines is using the qualifying windows to prepare for the World Cup. As host, the country is already qualified for the global hoop centerpiece.
Panlilio said the SBP has started talks with big businesses to help defray the World Cup costs and the cage agency is confident that it will get a lot of help.
The event will have four groups playing a classification phase and the Philippines will host two of those groups with Indonesia and Japan having one each.
Whichever country hosts world powers like the United States and Spain will certainly command big live crowds and a huge chunk of television time globally, and Panlilio admitted that the SBP had requested to be able to have the American team here for the whole duration of the event.
“We never got confirmation because the draw has yet to happen,” he said.
But Spain and the United States will eventually make their way here with the entire playoffs to happen at Philippine Arena in Bulacan. The Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena will be the venues for group play.
Before the event tips off, the SBP will host the national congress where around 400 delegates from more than 200 nations will attend.
“In the end, it will all be worth it because our country and the Filipinos’ passion for basketball will be front and center of it all,” said Panlilio. —WITH A REPORT FROM DENISON REY A. DALUPANG
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