MANILA – Giant food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has officially signed on as partner in the country’s hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in August, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Filipino fans to watch the best players from around the world.

SMC president and chief executive officer Ramon S. Ang expressed confidence that the return of the FIBA Basketball World Cup to the Philippines after 45 years, will serve boost the country’s profile in the international sporting stage, if not help usher in a new generation of players that will carry the country’s flag in the future.

In a news release, Ang said the decision to back the Philippine hosting of the prestigious competition was not a difficult one to make, given its benefits to local fans, athletes, basketball organizations and the whole country in general, while the recovery from the nearly three-year pandemic continues.

SMC’s support is bannered by San Miguel Brewery, Inc. -- rough its San Miguel Pale Pilsen brand -- that is also behind the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Magnolia Hotshots and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel are the two other SMC teams in the PBA.

“We are very proud to have been given this rare opportunity to host the FIBA Basketball World Cup. I think it’s the best time to have a prestigious international competition in the Philippines. After almost three years of the pandemic, we want to say that we are open for business, Filipinos are excited to welcome athletes from all over the world, and we are all eager to watch the very best teams play in our homecourt,” Ang said.

A longtime sports patron, Ang enjoined Filipinos to cheer for the Gilas Pilipinas team, which is among the 32 teams that will participate in the event that is co-hosted by Japan and Indonesia.

“San Miguel’s history is closely intertwined with sports, particularly basketball. By supporting this world-class event, we also hope to give our local players an opportunity to see different teams and further elevate their games. Also equally important, we want to encourage and inspire young players and the youth in general, to continue pursuing their passion--whether it is basketball or another sport. With enough hard work, discipline, and dedication, they too can be world-class and can carry our flag someday in international competitions,” Ang said.

Ang said he expects the competition to be even more stiff, as the world basketball landscape has changed a lot since 1978, when the country’s previous hosting saw the former Yugoslavia emerge as champion.

“The immense improvement of many countries since the country’s last hosting in 1978 makes this event a showcase of basketball talent that will be very exciting to watch,” Ang said.

“This is also one of the times when our country can take center stage and show to the world what we are capable of doing. Definitely, hosting the FIBA World Cup is one of those golden opportunities and a privilege,” he added.

Ang enjoined Filipinos to give a warm welcome to visiting teams, to support the country’s hosting and help it put its best foot forward as global audiences tune in to the games.

Ang thanked the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) group, headed by chair emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, and the FIBA leadership for the opportunity to take part in the historic event.

“I commend the SBP leadership and FIBA for working to bring the event to our shores for the first time in decades. For a basketball-loving country, it means so much for Filipinos to have the world’s centerpiece basketball event here,” he said.

Apart from basketball, SMC has supported other athletes and sports, the most recent of whom were Olympic medal winners, led by the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; and silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial of boxing.

SMC has also supported national teams in international events.

San Miguel backed the Philippine hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in 2005 (112-85-93 gold-silver-bronze for the overall championship) and 2019 (149-117-121). (PR)