Philippines to host 2013 FIBA Asia Championship after 40 years

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time after 40 long years, the Asian basketball championship will be held in the country in August.

The FIBA Asia Executive Committee decided late yesterday to move the 27th FIBA Asia Championship from Beirut, Lebanon to Manila in view of the current situation in Lebanon and the rest of West Asia.

"Unfortunately, the current situation in the region and the on-going civil war in Syria, which has its indirect effect on the countries in the whole of West Asia, especially on Lebanon, creates doubts about the stability that we might not have, at least, till the fixed dates of our event," said FIBA Asia secretary general Hagop Khajirian in his official communiqué to FIBA Asia members.

"In view of these facts, the FIBA Asia Executive Committee decided to change the (tournament) venue from Beirut-Lebanon to Manila-Philippines," Khajirian further said.

The Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas welcomed the opportunity to host the event serving as the regional elimination for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. The top three in the Asian joust qualify for the world meet set in Spain.

"SBP is pleased to accept this rare privilege of hosting the FIBA Asia Championship – a similar event we last hosted 40 years ago. Much hard work lies ahead in organizing this event, but we will do our best to make it successful," said SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan.

"It is time to unite Philippine basketball to achieve our goal of entering the World Championship in Spain in 2014," Pangilinan added.

Remaining a big problem is the conflict of the FIBA Asia Championship schedule with that of the PBA third conference.

SBP has informed the PBA board of the situation but the two parties have yet to sit down together to figure out how to resolve the matter.

The PBA has earlier agreed to lend players to the national team for as long as it doesn't distract the PBA season. And that's the main reason why only Meralco's JayR Reyes and Ronjay Buenafe, and Air21's KG Canaleta were able to join Smart Gilas Pilipinas in its Dubai trip.

"It's official: Manila hosts 2013 FIBA Asia Championship! All d hardwork thru Xmas & New Year paid off. Now d really difficult work begins," said national coach Chot Reyes on his Twitter account from Dubai.

Reyes obviously has yet to figure out how can he get the players that he really wants for the team.

An option reportedly being looked at, if the problem is not ironed out, is just putting together the core of the Talk n Text and Meralco teams which are both owned by the MVP Group.

The Philippines narrowly missed the top three the last time out in Wuhan, China, placing fourth behind China, Jordan and Korea. It's the country's best finish in the biennial event since the Joe Lipa-mentored Phl team led by Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio and Ronnie Magsanoc also placed third runner-up in 1987 in Bangkok, Thailand.

With five championships, the Philippines is the second most winningest team in the tourney behind China (15 crowns) but has not won one since Ron Jacobs steered Samboy Lim, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Dennis Still, Jeff Moore and their group to the top in 1985 in Kuala Lumpur.

Before that, the country last won the Asian meet when it was last held in Manila in 1973. The Tito Eduque-coached team composed of Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Manny Panner, Abet Guidaben, Bogs Adornado, Tembong Melencio, Yoyong Martirez, Jimmy Mariano, Francis Arnaiz, Joy Cleofas, Dave Regullano and Big Boy Reynoso won the championship (then still called Asian Basketball Confederation championship) via a 10-game sweep.

The Philippines topped the inaugural tourney held in Manila in 1960, then repeated in 1963 in Taipei and in 1967 in Seoul.

The Philippines had been the region's most dominant team until the formation of a pro league in 1975. With the country's best players turning pros, China took over as the region's kingpin, ruling all but four of the next 19 editions of the championship. (http://bit.ly/VT14li)

philSTAR

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