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Basketball bigwigs blow into town

KARL-ANTHONY Towns and the rest of the Dominican Republic are headed to Manila on Monday in time for the coming FIBA Basketball World Cup. SELECCION DOMINICANA PHOTO

Participating national teams and basketball personalities have started to fly in for the 2023 FIBA World Cup commencing next week.

The already congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be busier than usual in the coming days to welcome international cage stars, FIBA officials and other VIPs including an influx of fans for the world’s biggest basketball stage that the Philippines will host from 25 August to 10 September.

Montenegro’s national squad was the first to check in last Thursday while delegations from Angola, Mexico and Egypt were scheduled to land last night.

Teams from the Dominican Republic and Greece will arrive on Monday.

The bulk of the squads that the country will host in games to be played in the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena are coming in on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Powerhouse teams USA, Serbia, Puerto Rico, Italy and New Zealand will land on Tuesday while China, Jordan, South Sudan and Lithuania are checking in the following day.

Ivory Coast, which will play the group stage in Indonesia, is in the country for a tune-up match against Gilas Pilipinas.

The Filipinos behind National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson, Scottie Thompson and Kai Sotto blasted Ivory Coast, 85-62, last Friday in their first of three friendlies.

Next up for Gilas is Montenegro today before taking on Mexico tomorrow in closed-door games.

Meanwhile, two pairs of quarterfinalists are flying in from Okinawa, Japan and Jakarta, Indonesia on 4 September.

Aside from the national teams also set to arrive are FIBA Oceania president Geoffrey Reid, FIBA Americas president Fabiano Borro today.

Former NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming along with FIBA Africa president Anibal Felizardo de Aurelio Manave and FIBA Europe president Jorge Joaquin Garbajosa are coming in tomorrow.

Luis Scola will also be in the country on 6 September while fellow ex-NBA stars Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony and four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird are arriving on 7 September ahead of the gold medal match on 10 September.

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