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Doncic, Slovenians to play in Manila?

Luka Doncic and the rest of Slovenian squad may be headed to Manila if the storm gets worsen in Okinawa. (Photo from FIBA)

The Philippines will open its doors for superstar Luka Doncic and the Slovenians should a powerful storm spoil Okinawa’s hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup set from 25 August to 10 September.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios said they are ready to make some adjustments just to accommodate Slovenia and seven other teams should a storm hit Okinawa, similar to what happened last
week when tropical storm “Khanun” wreaked havoc on the island.

Aside from Slovenia, Okinawa is also hosting Japan, Finland, Australia, Germany, Cape Verde, Georgia and Venezuela at the 10,000-seater Okinawa Arena.

On the other hand, the Philippines will host 16 teams, including powerhouse countries United States, Greece, Serbia and China in two venues — the Mall of Asia Arena and the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Other matches, meanwhile, will be played at the 16,500-seater Indonesia Arena in Jakarta.

But Barrios stressed that they are ready to step up should Okinawa be paralyzed by another powerful storm.

“FIBA (International Basketball Federation) looks at us as competent hosts. The typhoon in Okinawa has been intense and FIBA advised us to have the games here in case since their last experience in Okinawa, it took them several days to
continue,” Barrios said.

“If that happens, the games in Okinawa will be transferred here. That’s how confident they are with us.”

The flight from Okinawa to Manila would take only around two hours and 20 minutes and the World Cup local organizing committee in the Philippines will be ready to make some arrangements in billeting, transportation, food and scheduling of training and
competition venues.

Having the Okinawa matches transferred to Manila will be a dream scenario for basketball-crazy Filipinos.

Aside from Doncic, also expected to blow into town are National Basketball Association stars like Lauri Markkanen of Finland, Dennis Schroder, and Franz and Moritz Wagner of Germany, and Patty Mills and Josh Giddey of Australia.

Yuta Watanabe of Japan will be in Manila if Okinawa is hit by yet another typhoon.

FIBA deputy event director Erika Dy said extra fixtures at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena will be added to accommodate additional teams.

“We will use both of the venues. This is a worst-case scenario but we are ready,” Dy said.

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