On 25 August 2023, all eyes will be in Manila, Jakarta and Naha in Okinawa as the 3 cities co-host the biggest basketball extravaganza in the world, the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. This will be the first time the World Cup will be hosted by multiple countries, namely: Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. With the introduction of a multi-country hosting scheme, the Asian tripartite won the hosting rights over the South American duo of Argentina and Uruguay in the bid conducted way back in December 2017.
A total of 80 teams from 4 FIBA regions (Africa, Asia, America and Europe) qualified for the initial World Cup Qualifiers. Qualification games were conducted through the continental competitions: the AfroBasket 2021, AmeriCup 2022, AsiaCup 2022 and the EuroBasket 2022. In all, a total of 32 countries will be given the singular honor of sending their best basketball stars to play against the best in the world.
Philippines and Japan have been automatically given slots from the Asia/Oceania region. Indonesia was denied the same automatic slot, after failing to reach the quarterfinals in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup. Thus, for the Asia/Oceania region, only 6 of the 8 slots are still available for grabs.
In Europe, 12 out of 32 participant-countries in the European region will earn spots to compete in the World Cup. They have been going through 6 grueling tournament windows running for 2 years from 2021 to 2023, with home and away games in these event windows. In the Americas, 7 out of 16 nations are vying for slots to next year’s prestigious World Cup. And in Africa, there are 5 slots available for 16 African nations competing.
Based on the results of the recently-concluded EuroBasket 2022, there is immense interest to watch the game’s top stars as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic, proud members of the elite NBA Mythical 5 last season, dazzled the crowd with their combined speed, skill and strength. Here in Manila, a massive crowd cheered Jordan Clarkson and the national team in its game against Saudi Arabia. Fans have turned out in even bigger numbers in the window qualification games in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Indeed, the global influence of the game has been nothing less than awe-inspiring.
With less than a year to go before the tournament starts, preparations are now underway, not just to ensure a successful hosting, but to create a competitive team that will be a source of pride for the country.
All aspects in the hosting are now being addressed in detail. Our past experiences with hosting events of such magnitude have definitely been a big boon. Particular attention must be focused on the marketing of tickets. A regular review of the ticket sales have to be made in order to make assessments and adjustments on the sales strategy. I’d like to suggest kiddie discounts in order for the younger generation to get the sports fever early in their lives. I’d like to see full arenas, and this could only be had if the prices are made affordable for the middle and lower income bracket. Perhaps corporate, school, club or even group and family discounts will provide for more enthusiastic fan participation. Packed arenas will create a good image for the country. Packed arenas will show that we can host big international events successfully, and promote tourism as well. Packed arenas will develop a love for sports among our youth, and this will bear fruit in the years to come.
As for the team preparations, much has been said about our Gilas team. From the team line-up, to the coaching staff, etc. The fact that there are many voices and unsolicited advice thrown around only shows the passion and the pride our people have for the game of basketball. We are so devoted to the sport, and we have been spoiled in the past by the national team’s consistent successes in the regional cage scene.
However, our recent debacle against Indonesia in the SEA Games, coupled with the unexpected losses to Japan and Lebanon in the Asia Cup tells us that without good preparation, our finest players will fall easy prey to less-skilled, yet better-prepared team. The lack of preparation time is the root cause of the country’s recent international debacles.
Consider Japan. Until the Asia Cup recently, Japan has not gained a win against the Gilas team since the Asian Games in 2010. Today, many of our best young players are plying their trade in Japan’s B League. With quality imports from America, Europe and Asia, the B League is learning from different styles of play. Aside from that, the Japanese national team has been regularly playing with other international sides in the hope of acquiring new skills and techniques in this ever-evolving new wave of basketball. While our best basketeers are limited to play against each other in the PBA, Japan’s team has competed against France, Spain, Slovenia, Argentina, China and Iran, and this has done wonders for their national squad.
With less than a year to go, FIBA World Cup 2023 is just right around the corner. It is important that the country closes ranks to produce a successful hosting, as well as a decent enough finish to inspire the next generation of cagers to strive harder. Let’s all join hands to make this endeavor an exciting, fun adventure that we can all be proud of. To the organizers, good luck! And to everyone, let’s do our share to make this activity a big success.
For a clearer view, just click on the pics. Cover photo courtesy of MLB.com. Other photos, courtesy of Le Monde, China Daily, Fiba, the Washington Post, Team Pilipinas, EuroHoops, Marca, ABC, African News, AllAfrica.com.