By Joe Zaldarriaga

Support of Filipinos key to success of FIBA World Cup 2023

The Philippines has long been known as a “basketball country” and now that the highly anticipated FIBA World Cup 2023 is just weeks away from being staged once again in the Philippines, the opportune moment has come to let the world see how this beloved sport has the power to unite our nation during the FIBA World Cup. The country has patiently waited for nearly five decades for the chance to host the prestigious event, making this all the more monumental.

Filipinos’ love for basketball is unparalleled. It is not the national sport, but it is the most played. In fact, seeing at least one basketball court in every community is a very common sight. People of all ages, regardless of social status, participate as either players or fans. To Filipinos, basketball is no longer just a sport, it is already part of our culture.

As the FIBA World Cup approaches, it is only fitting for us Filipinos to rally behind the organization that put together this event and show our love not just for basketball but for the country as well. We have waited for this chance for so long, hence, we should all work together in assuring that everything will run smoothly, and orderly so foreign visitors will have a great experience.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and our government are now fully prepared to showcase not only the skills of our team but also our renowned hospitality to the foreign players, officials, and fans from different countries participating in the FIBA.

SBP is the national sports association for basketball in the country, and it has been recognized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), Philippine Sports Commission, and Philippine Olympic Committee since 2007.

Apart from rallying behind our very own Gilas Pilipinas, the upcoming tournament also presents a great opportunity for our tourism industry and to showcase the beauty and vibrancy of our culture to foreign visitors.

The staging of the FIBA World Cup in the country is an extraordinary opportunity that every Filipino should seize. This is an amazing chance to witness Gilas Pilipinas reclaim lost glory on the world stage. Counting both the FIBA Worlds and the Olympics, the Philippines has participated in seven inter-continental tournaments, nabbing only a single medal, a bronze, in the 1954 FIBA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Philippines has not qualified for the Olympics since 1972, and only qualified twice for the FIBA Worlds in 2014 in Spain and 2019 in China. Gilas won only one game in those tourneys combined, an 81-79 overtime game against Senegal.

This time, as Gilas competes in the FIBA World Cup on our home soil, they promise to play with an even bigger heart, motivated by their desire to bring pride to our nation. The weight of history rests on their shoulders yet with unwavering support from every Filipino, they will give their best and embody the spirit of “PUSO”.

Last month, SBP president Al Panlilio, who also holds the position of second vice president of the FIBA Asia Board, made a heartfelt appeal to fellow Filipinos to support Gilas Pilipinas and pray for the good health and safety of all the players, coaches, and everyone involved.

The preparation of Gilas Pilipinas for the World Cup has been extensive and meticulous. This alone is reason enough to deserve our all-out support. They have been training non-stop and playing tune-up matches to prepare themselves for the tournament.

The announcement regarding NBA player Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz joining the team is a very welcome development. Clarkson's addition is a significant boost to Gilas' pursuit of placing highest among Asian teams in the World Cup in order to automatically qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

I strongly believe that the collective efforts and sacrifices made by various sectors, along with the solid support of each Filipino, will fuel the drive of our Gilas Pilipinas to succeed and showcase the true and exceptional ability of Filipinos in this historic event.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Mr. Joe Zaldarriaga, fondly called "Manong Joe", is a distinguished figure in the country’s corporate communications landscape. Holding the position of Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications at Manila Electric Company (Meralco), he has orchestrated unparalleled success for the utility company, winning accolades for their brand of service communications.

Under his guidance, Meralco achieved unprecedented milestones, clinching a historic 3-peat Company of the Year title at the IABC Philippine Quill Awards, scoring the only PR Team of the Year trophy bestowed at the Anvil Awards, and securing numerous honors at international and local communication awards.

Manong Joe's leadership also extends as a respected member of the Board of Trustees for the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), concurrent with his role as Chairman of the International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC Philippines) where he also served as its President.

Manong Joe is a distinguished awardee of the medallion of honor and scroll of commendation from the University of Manila, owing to his years in public service as a communications professional. He shares his insights through columns in renowned publications, including The Philippine Star’s The Z Factor, and Philippine News Agency's ESPRESSO MORNINGS.