MVP and his take on PH-China ‘war’

WHEN I first heard the question that was thrown at basketball head Manny V. Pangilinan and had something to do with the China-Philippines islands dispute, I instantly wanted to frown at the query.

True, Thursday’s roundtable discussion was about a specific ‘war’ involving China and the Philippines, but it was not something that can potentially force both nations to obliterate each other.

Both China and the Philippines are in a hotly contested battle to get FIBA’s blessing when it comes to hosting the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

But, in looking back at what transpired during Pangilinan’s tete-a-tete with sports media Thursday morning at his Meralco office, there was actually a need to throw in the question and get a crucial answer.

After all, Pangilinan himself revealed that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the country’s governing body, which he heads, had a meeting with government officials to discuss the bid to host basketball’s biggest international event.

“A number of people there are basketball fans. It was not a difficult presentation. The message of being able to host such a great event here on our shores really resonated well on the officials. That’s also important from the bid prospective,” said Pangilinan. “I must say we in the basketball community, through the SBP, is grateful for the support of the government. They stand behind the effort.”

On his way out of the room, Pangilinan took one last time to answer one more question and this was about the how the ongoing maritime dispute between the Philippines and China could affect FIBA’s decision to choose the winning bidder.

It helped me to easily understand the direction of the query when it was Gerry Ramos, a respected and adept sportswriter, who is now with, who asked the focal question.

Pangilinan’s answer was very simple and is probably needed to make everyone focus on the sports aspect of this issue.

“FIBA is not a political organization. It’s something that we should not raise. Whether it’s Philippines or China, this is a sporting event,” said Pangilinan.

It was an answer that everyone must comprehend, especially to those social media-savvy people who find time in talking about the FIBA bid issue online.

It is an important issue that must not affect our hosting bid, noting that most Filipinos on social media tend to incorporate the subject on the disputed islands whenever there are issues between the two countries, be it in sports or entertainment.

Social media’s influence on this matter was actually the main reason why Pangilinan’s group gathered the media last week.

Also meeting the press were international consultants Sean Nicholls and Ian Rumsby, both considered by Pangilinan as “very experienced in handling bids of international dimensions”.

Rumsby underscored the power of social media and how Filipinos, using that tool, could persuade FIBA in seriously considering the Philippines as a potential host.

“It’s important for the FIBA World Cup. Yes, the Philippines is acknowledged and recognized as the social media capital of the world. We’re bringing a very powerful means of telling basketball story globally, not just in the nation,” said Rumsby.

Nicholls, as expected, agreed with Rumsby and is hopeful that Filipinos’ social media time will be spent well by joining the effort to win the bid.

“A FIBA World Cup in the Philippines will create noise, energy, buzz, attention that will flow out and create ripples around the world,” said Nicholls “It will bring a unique experience. Something that will touch the heart of everybody who will be here.”

The Philippines and China will face the 23-man FIBA Central Board next month and make their respective final presentations to convince the sport’s world governing body about their ability to host the event.

The presentation as well as the announcement of the winning bidder will happen on the same day, Aug. 7, in Tokyo, Japan.

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