25 August, 2023
10 September
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Nowitzki, Chot and FIBA Secretary General Zagklis over the moon after spectacular Draw

MANILA (Philippines) - The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is 116 days from tipping off in Manila, Okinawa and Jakarta yet it feels like the event has already begun thanks to a dazzling Draw presented by Wanda on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum in the Philippines.

International basketball was a huge winner as music sensations Sarah Geronimo, Saweetie and Billy Crawford, the Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, and Argentina legend World Cup Global Ambassador Luis Scola, FIBA legend Dirk Nowizki and eight-time PBA Champion LA Tenorio took the stage before, during and after the Draw.

The Coliseum was buzzing well into the night after national teams discovered which groups they were part of.

Nowitzki, the MVP of the 2002 World Cup in Indianapolis who now serves as Chairman of the FIBA Players' Commission and is also on the FIBA Central Board, said: "It was a great draw.

"We got to meet a lot of fans so it's been a pleasure, and humbling, to be here.

"The draw ceremony was a lot of fun. I think we saw some great groups. I think we're going to see some great competition in August and in September, so we can't wait for the World Cup."

FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis felt the same.

"We had the Araneta Coliseum vibrating tonight, a really great show," he said. "The result of the draw is fantastic in the sense that we had very interesting groups, very open groups and at the same time, all three hosts are happy with the quality of the teams they are getting."

American rapper and singer, Saweetie, had a mesmerizing performance in the Araneta Coliseum

Among the coaches at the Draw was Chot Reyes of the Philippines, who were drawn in Group A with Angola, Dominican Republic and Italy.

"My attitude towards the draw is, it's not ideal, but it could have been worse," he said. "So I'm pretty happy with the teams we've been drawn with. But in the World Cup, there is no such thing as an easy draw. Every draw is going to be tough, regardless. For me, it's just a question of at least we know who we are playing."

The Philippines won just one of five games at the 2014 World Cup when Reyes coached the team in Sevilla, yet every contest was close.


"Obviously, we have to (believe we can advance from the group stages)," he said. "I don't think there is any (other) kind of mindset or attitude that we can bring into this tournament.

"We have to have a big belief in ourselves, with that confidence, and then we know we have to put in the work as well. Looking at our group, it's sports, right? Anything can happen in basketball in our sport. Our focus right now is just to put the best team together."

Nowitzki said he will be in Japan to watch many of the great players and teams there, including the national team he once played for, Germany, in Group E. They will go up against Finland, Australia and Japan.

"It's a tough group," he said. "Australia is always well coached, they have a lot of talent, are well coached. Finland is really good with Lauri Markkanen, obviously. They played a great EuroBasket last year. So they're tough to beat. Japan is at home so they'll have home court advantage.

"So it will be a lot of fun to play in a great atmosphere. We can't wait to see what happens. But if you want to make it to the Semi-Finals, the Quarter-Finals, you gotta make it out of the group. Hopefully Germany is healthy this summer and ready to play and then we'll have a good team."

Nowitzki is excited to see another team, Slovenia, because one of the European stars that has followed in his footsteps by playing for the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic.

"Luka is always in Japan so when I go and watch Germany play, I'll see Luka for sure," he said. "Obviously a player with the Mavericks and one of my favorite players. So I can't wait to see him. And then some of the stars, (Nikola) Jokic and Giannis (Antetokounmpo). And I can't wait to see who the US will bring, what team they'll show up with."

As for the game he is looking forward to watching, Nowitzki said: "Obviously the US is in Group C with Greece. That's going to be an unbelievable game. Germany has a good group with Australia and Finland, but I think just overall, it's going to be great matchups.

A star attraction at the Draw was Miss University 2018, Catriona Gray of the Philippines

"The world has gotten so much closer, so many good competitions, the level is so good that any given night, somebody might be some other team. It's going to be fun to watch."

Zagklis didn't hesitate when asked about the toughest group.

"There is no doubt, the group in Jakarta with Canada, France and Latvia and Lebanon," he said. "That is a group of death, I was told is the title.

"I must say USA and Greece, here, another exciting group and definitely in Okinawa, we'll have some star power there."

What the 2023 World Cup will show is that basketball has more and more teams playing at a high level.


"We see growth of the game," Zagklis said. "Nine of the 32 teams were not there at the previous World Cup. This shows that world basketball has depth. World basketball is growing and developing.

"And at the same time, we're very excited to see the stars of the future, who have arrived already, the stars that will participate now in their first World Cup. At the same time, we'll have our experienced superstars who are always there to represent their country."

Chot Reyes offered a prediction on the teams that would reach the podium.

"USA, Spain and France," he said.

Nowitzki, however, did not.

"That's always hard," he said. "I predicted something for the EuroBasket last year and was completely wrong, so I'm going to stay away from that.

"It kind of depends on what team the US bring. Usually of course they are the heavy favorites. We'll see what kind of team they can assemble. The rest is wide open. Spain just won the EuroBasket last year, super solid team. So many good teams. So I think everything is wide open."