By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is planning to set a new attendance record when the FIBA World Cup kicks off this August 25, 2023, at the Philippine Arena.
SBP president Al Panlilio recently revealed their grand plans during another session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum held at the Meralco Compound.
According to Panlilio, the SBP and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) are on pace to break the previous 32,616 record during the 1994 grand finals game played between the US and Russia in Toronto.
Panlilio and his team are confident that the spectators that will grace the opening ceremony next week can reach the 50,000 mark or even more.
The Philippine Arena’s seating capacity is only limited to a maximum of 55,000 in attendance and deputy event director of the LOC, Ericka Dy, is already preparing for the measures to control the expected crowd.
“I think we are really primed to beat that record. In terms of ticket sales, we are very close to the goal but not yet there,” said Dy.
The opening of the FIBA World Cup will feature a double-header game with the first schedule to be played between Italy and Angola while the main event will be headed by Gilas Pilipinas and Dominican Republic at 8 PM.
After the Dominican Republic, the PHL national team will be taking on Angola on August 27 and Italy on the 29th.
Gilas Pilipinas is now in the last phase of their training camp and recently received momentum in their build-up after the addition of Scottie Thompson and Kai Sotto.
The two included members in Gilas’ 21-man pool just healed up from their respective injuries and are expected to grace the tune-up games against Montenegro and Mexico.
Their last two tune-up games against the two nations will then be crucial for head coach Chot Reyes and his staff to pick the final 12 players for their official FIBA World Cup roster.