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Asia stands to benefit from possibility of hosting FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament
MANILA (Enzo Flojo's Asia on my Mind) - On January 19, 2016, FIBA will make one of the biggest announcements of the year when they announce the hosts of the three 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs) that will comprise the final phase of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Of the six countries bidding to host the OQTs, there is one that stands out - the Philippines.
The Philippines is the only remaining Asian country in the bid as Iran has bowed out and the other countries are all from Europe (Serbia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Turkey). Hosting such an important international basketball event in Manila would be nothing short of momentous, and it will certainly be a golden opportunity for Filipinos to show the world their famed love for the game.
If Manila does earn the right to host one of the OQTs, though, the rest of Asia can also celebrate because this event will give basketball junkies from all over the continent a chance to see some of the best players from around the world in the flesh.
Just imagine. Top tier players like Tony Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Andrew Wiggins, JJ Barea, Gorgui Dieng and Isaac Fotu may just set foot on Asian soil and showcase their wares in this corner of the world. For a country as crazed about hoops as the Philippines, and for a continent that gets this kind of opportunity only once in a blue moon, having so much basketball talent would be heaven on the hardwood.
It would also be an amazing opportunity for the rest of the basketball world to peer into the world of Asian hoops not just by seeing Asian teams play, but by seeing how much Asian fans love the game. Fans from nearby countries can easily make the short hop to Manila and see their high-flying idols for themselves (perhaps even while taking a ride on a jeepney or gallivanting in any of Manila’s huge shopping malls). Aside from that, having one of the OQTs in Asia means attracting a lot of visitors. The Philippines will be the main location for the event, sure, but afterwards, it would be plausible to have visitors from all over the globe travel to other key locations, especially tourist spots, in Asia. Bargain shopping? Beaches? Cultural hotspots? All checks.
It would also be a tremendous opportunity for Asian sports media to cover a world-level sporting event. Again, Asian news outlets would be staring at a very rare chance to cover and interview guys they only see on TV playing in the NBA or the Euroleague.
Forward-looking Asian basketball officials and coaches should also be able to see the value in this event. By coming to Manila and watching top-flight international basketball matches, they can further deepen their understanding of the game and trickle their learnings and experiences down to the officials and players in their home countries. This is valuable transfer of knowledge that can potentially spark vast improvements in the level of competition and organization in the region.
Hosting an OQT will also serve to further enhance not just the "Philippine brand", but also the overall "Asian brand" of organizing and hosting events of similar or even larger scale and importance. If Manila's possible hosting proceeds smoothly, the continent's reputation and experience in handling major events will benefit greatly, and it wouldn't be far-fetched for other sporting bodies to give the "Asian brand" stronger consideration in the future. This is important since the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will be held in China and the 2020 Olympics will be hosted by Japan. If the Philippines win hosting rights this year and are successful in their endeavor, confidence in Asian countries’ hosting capabilities will rise even more.
At the end of the day, FIBA will look at the countries that will be able to give the best overall experience as hosts - best for the officials, best for the players, and, of course, best for the fans. If the past few FIBA Asia Championships are any indication, Asia - and Manila in particular - would be an emphatic and laudable choice.
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