The Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila and the Philsports Arena in Pasig are going to be used as practice facilities during the country’s hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“We have two we have identified, one is the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, where the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) has been helping out, and the other venue is also a PSC property, which is the Philsports Arena,” said World Cup deputy event director Erika Dy during yesterday’s weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
Dy was joined by joint management committee head John Lucas and PSC chairperson Richard “Dickie” Bachmann and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive Virgil Villavicencio.
‘This will go beyond the games because we have something special for the fans.’
The Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao and the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay are the main venues although the Philippine Arena in Bulacan will host the double-header opener featuring the Philippines against Dominican Republic.
Group A and B will be playing at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gilas Pilipinas is bracketed in Group A along with Italy, Angola and the Dominican Republic.
Teams playing in Group B are China, Serbia, Puerto Rico, and South Sudan.
The United States will lead the cast in Group C and is grouped along with Greece, New Zealand and Jordan.
Placed in Group D are Lithuania, Montenegro, Mexico and Egypt.
The Ninoy Aquino Stadium, according to Bachmann, has been refurbished.
“This has been upgraded already since the SEA Games (2019). It’s ready to go, except that there’s no flooring because it was damaged because of the flood,” Bachmann said.
According to the joint committee, the country is 80 percent ready to stage the much-awaited cagefest.
A test-event will be held later in the month with collegiate squads seeing action.
“On June 27 and 28, we’ll actually have our test event where we will hold games following the FIBA time which is 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Smart Araneta and 4:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Mall of Asia,” Dy said.
A combination of UAAP and NCAA teams are the ones playing the games, which will be covered live to test the broadcast side of the coverage.
At the same time, transportation going to both venues is likewise going to be simulated, with the games open to the public.
The Philippines first hosted the World Cup in 1978, and will have Japan and Indonesia co-hosting.
The formal opening ceremony will be held in between games.
“This will go beyond the games because we have something special for the fans. We’ll have the opening ceremony, halftime shows. So great value for the fans. Two great games, great opening, halftime shows where you’ll see celebrities,” Lucas added.
Lucas also reiterated the earlier call of the SBP to surpass the record of 32,000-plus attendance in a FIBA game by filling up the Philippine Arena on opening day.
The record attendance was set during the 1994 World Cup in Toronto during the finals between US and Russia.
“We want to really fill up the Philippine Arena. We need to break the record. Let’s make history,” Lucas said.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been invited to grace the opening ceremony.
“He’s been invited, but there’s still no confirmation,” said Dy, noting the late former President Marcos was the one who presided over the ceremonial jump ball in 1978.