The Not-So-Smooth Road to the FIBA Hosting Dream

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Star power at the FIBA bid: Manny Pacquiao and Lou Diamond Philips for the Philippines; Yao Ming for China. Photo of Yao Ming attributed to Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Yao Ming Uploaded by Jacopo Werther) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Photo of Pacquiao By inboundpass (Flickr: NCAA Season 87: Opening Day, July 2, 2011) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; of Philips, by Phil Konstantin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

LouDiamondPhillipsByPhilKonstantinPublicDomain    Awww….China beat the Philippines as host of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. According to sports journalist Joaquin Henson in his Philippine Star column, the critical factor that swayed the votes toward China was its infrastructure (and financial) ability to run an event for about one million visitors.

This was a challenge that the Philippine delegates who pitched for the country knew and tried to deal with. It was after all, your classic David versus Goliath scenario. Only thing is that in real life, the probability would of course lean heavily toward Goliath,  hands down.

So, I sit here and ponder not about why China won, but about when the Philippines will ever win any bid to host the FIBA Cup. We lost the chance for 2019, but heck, we can still go for 2023, right? That’s more than enough time for the next Philippine president to set the conditions right for the next opportunity.

Let me count the ways on why China emerged the victor in this bid:

  1. Eight host cities –Beijing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing and Foshan as host cities: Most of these, if not all, are part of the world’s top megalopolies.
  2.  Five-star hotels that can house 100,000 guests – Let’s take Shanghai, for example. This city has a star-rated room supply of almost 60,000 in 2014, of which 42 percent are said to be rated with five stars.
  3. Bullet trains – Okay, let’s give this to China hands down. Manila’s MRT trains pale (And I am being kind here) in comparison to Chinese bullet trains that can travel 350 kilometers an hour and easily connect the eight host cities. Oh, and get this: Its Shanghai Maglev bullet train can hit a speed of over 400 kilometers even.
    Pop quiz: Bicol to Quezon City is 420 kilometers apart. Calculate how long it will take a Maglev to travel to its destination. Impressed?
  4. Eight existing stadiums – China has at least four stadiums located in its proposed host cities that are the size of the Philippine Arena in Bulacan or bigger even.
  5. The moolah involved – Okay, this is a no-brainer. I will not even discuss this anymore.

The Philippines, however, has its own aces up its sleeves. In the social media world, it is perhaps the one most connected to the world in terms of its citizens’ ability —not to mention, freedom—to reach out. If the world is the sun, then the Philippines is to Mercury as China is to Pluto (okay, I’ll concede and go with Neptune instead since Pluto has not yet been officially upgraded into a planet again). Guess China will have to allow Facebook into its homefront first if it wants to be a social media darling.

Here’s my eureka moment. See, I can’t help but really wonder if the next Philippine president we vote in will have the capacity to drive the country to catch up and set all its infra projects in place in time for the next global basketball event.

According to the media, the construction that is supposed to link NAIA Terminal 3 to the intersection of the Domestic Road and the MIA Road may be delayed by six months. At best, air passengers would have to expect the road congestion until March 2016. Ideally, the MRT 7 railway connection from Bulacan to Quezon City should have started construction years ago. But as I write this, it is officially still in its “pre-construction activities” (Dunno if that is some sort of code for “still ironing out disputes’’). The DOTC has 48 new train cars expected to arrive to appease the maddening crowd that the MRT debacle in the past year has created.

Wow, just thinking about all these had me perspiring.

So, to the next Philippine president: Good luck to you, Sir (or Ma’am). Help us bag the next FIBA hosting gig, please.

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