MANILA – The Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan could be the host for the sixth and last window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers early next year.
The 55,000-seater stadium may host the knockout stages of the FIBA World Cup in February, making it the best place to prepare for the World Cup itself, according to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios on Friday.
"In some way, we will sort of OJT (on-the-job training) ourselves," Barrios said during the “Sports On Air Weekly” podcast.
He added the SBP is taking some lessons from the successful four-nation hosting of the FIBA Eurobasket held in Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, and Italy earlier this month.
"Kakagaling lang ng tatlong opisyales natin sa Berlin [in Germany]. Kadadating lang nila (Three of our officials went to Berlin. They just returned) the other day," Barrios said, adding that he has also met with joint management committee leader John Lucas for the country’s FIBA World Cup hosting next year
Barrios assured the fans that the preparations remain intensive to make sure the hosting will be as grand as possible.
Gilas will host two games in the final window of the qualifiers -- against Lebanon on February 24 and Jordan on February 27.
Both matches will be "test events" for the World Cup that the Philippines will co-host with Japan and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10 next year.
Barrios believes a huge crowd will show up for the Gilas-Lebanon game, which falls on a Friday night, to watch how the Filipinos will avenge their tough 81-85 loss during the fourth window in Beirut last month, despite having National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson and 7-foot-1 Kai Sotto.
Barrios said Clarkson and Sotto won't see action in the fifth window this November and in next year’s sixth because of commitments to their professional leagues.
"We have our work cut out for us in February. Gayunpaman, ang battlecry natin, laban Pilipinas! Puso! Paghahandaan natin ‘yan (Our battlecry remains fight Philippines! Take heart! We will prepare for that)," he said.
Barrios said the local organizing committee is in the process of finalizing plans on how to transport fans coming from the south to the Philippine Arena for the sixth window and possibly, for the World Cup playoffs. (PNA)