TRANSPORTATION concerns remain as the top hurdle the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) needs to iron out ahead of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup (WC) hosting in August.
The SBP as the local organizing committee (LOC) along with the officials from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) held a dry run of the events on Wednesday with the transportation issues surfacing as “the biggest challenge” needed to be cleared with still two months to go.
“Transport is absolutely the biggest challenge,” said FIBA World Cup executive director David Crocker, who personally oversaw the SBP Invitational Games that served as World Cup simulation on Wednesday, with deputy event director Erika Dy.
The SBP Invitational Games went smoothly as planned, as far as the matches in the venues (Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena) are concerned, but problems were spotted in transporting the players from teams’ main hotel at the Grand Hyatt Manila in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig to the three game venues.
Of all the venues, the 34-kilometer trip from the BGC to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan posed the most concern.
“The Philippine Arena ride was still a challenge. We’re still hoping to shave off a few more minutes of that bus trip,” said Ms. Dy as the SBP plans more transportation simulations to perfect it in time for the world spectacle on Aug. 25 to Sept. 10.
The Philippine Arena will house the opening game of Gilas Pilipinas against Dominican Republic on Aug. 25 while the rest of the group matches are assigned at the Big Dome in Quezon City and the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
Organizers said the trips from the BGC to the other venues at the Big Dome and the MOA Arena “went well” through the express EDSA bus lane, which will be designated for the World Cup, though the challenge is finding a balance to make it smoother while not interrupting the riding public.
“We’ve had great cooperation with the highway patrol group to help us work out the best routes to clear the traffic but we’re also conscious about not creating a dilemma for the general public as well. So, we’re trying to find a really smooth way to fit into the ecosystem here,” added Mr. Crocker.
The Big Dome, which has been undergoing renovations since last year to be at par with World Cup standards especially the media room and locker rooms, is also on track for full completion by mid-July.
Overall, Ms. Dy made a conservative rating on the country’s readiness but was relieved that with how the simulation went as it floated the problems as early as possible that would make the rooms for improvement more achievable in the next month.
“Good thing, we’re able to flag this early. All in all, I would give it 5/10. So that means, there’s a lot to work on. To be honest, if I don’t see any problems today, I would be more worried so I’m happy that these things are coming out so we can correct them earlier,” she said.
Mr. Crocker gave it a higher rating at 6.5 to 7, expressing confidence that the Philippines can pull off the World Cup hosting in flying colors.
“I’m impressed with the team at the LOC. They’re thinking about the challenges, they’re finding solutions. I feel that we have a very good team who are very capable of delivering a very good World Cup,” noted Mr. Crocker.
“The things that they control, they can do better, and that’s what we’re talking about. These things, which is the ecosystem, such as the travel, which we’re going to be strategic and collaborate with other partners to make this work well.” — John Bryan Ulanday