MANILA, Philippines Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao said the Philippines has a strong case in its attempt to gain the hosting rights for the FIBA World Cup in 2019.
Pacquiao recently flew to Tokyo, Japan as part of the delegation accompanying the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas in its pitch to become the host of the world basketball meet three years from now.
In a report by Philboxing.com’s Aquiles Zonio, Pacquiao singled out Filipinos’ passion for basketball as something that will make the Philippines the perfect host.
And he’s confident that the FIBA Central Board will consider such trait in granting the hosting rights to the country.
“I am here to support our country’s bid. You know, basketball is the most popular sport in our country. Halos bawat sulok ng kahit liblib na barangay ay mayroong basketball court. Ganun kalapit sa puso ng mga Pilipino ang larong basketball. Kaya sana tayo ang manalong host (Almost every corner of the country, even in remote areas, has a basketball court. That’s how close basketball is to the heart of Filipinos. That’s why I’m hoping that we will win the hosting rights,” Pacquiao said.
“Palagay ko hindi lang naman ang infrastructure o venue and titingnan at ikokonsidera ng FIBA Central Board kundi ang pangkalahatang kakayahan ng isang host. Mas passionate ang mga Pinoy pagdating sa larong basketball (I think apart from having the proper infrastructure or venues, the FIBA Central Board will also consider a country’s overall capability to host such event. Filipinos are more passionate about basketball),” added the fighting congressman.
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The Philippines, however, faces a tall order as it will be going up against China, which is also trying to bag the hosting rights. The Asian powerhouse is obviously the favorite, having hosted some high-profile sporting events such as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the 2010 Asian Games in Guanzhou, and the FIBA Asia men’s basketball championships.
But Pacquiao, again, stressed that the Philippines has a unique basketball fanbase.
“Very hospitable tayong mga Pinoy. Masarap at inspired maglaro ang mga players lalo na pag very hospitable ang host (Filipinos are very hospitable. The players will be inspired to play in front of a very hospitable host),” Pacquiao said.
Aside from Pacquiao, reportedly joining the PHL delegation in its pitch is Hollywood actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who has Filipino roots.
According to same Philboxing.com report, the General Santos City-based southpaw and his entourage will fly back to Manila on Saturday evening. g Dino Maragay