December 02, 2023

GUTS AND GLORY | What should be the true legacy of the Philippines' FIBA World Cup hosting?

GUTS AND GLORY | What should be the true legacy of the Philippines
Art by Royce Nicdao

The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will not be forgotten anytime soon by everyone lucky enough to take part in it. From the organizers and volunteers who worked so hard to make it all possible, to the media who covered the games, to the fans who shelled out hard-earned money to watch the games live, it was an exceptional basketball experience for all.

On the top level, the benefits of hosting the World Cup are obvious. The basketball community now knows that when we say Filipinos are crazy about basketball, it is no exaggeration. It’s also a testament to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as they were able to form a lean but high-functioning local organizing committee (LOC) that delivered great results.

While we all received a collective black-eye after the brawl, we have more than redeemed ourselves to the international basketball community. While there will always be hitches in hosting events of this magnitude, the LOC prepared well enough to avoid major hindrances and most guests genuinely enjoyed their time here in the Philippines, outside the traffic situation.

However, more than the top level, my personal hope is that the ripple effect of hosting the World Cup trickles down to the grassroots.

The hope is that players, coaches, and organizers from the starting levels saw what international basketball is about and adjust their view on the sport accordingly.

Yes, we Filipinos will always be fans of the NBA. But it’s clear now that FIBA basketball is very different and talent can’t win every time.

Canada and the United States of America, the two teams with the most number of NBA players, treated us with an amazing bronze medal match but it was Germany and Serbia that competed for the top prize. Yes, the two finalists also had their own NBA players but they had names unfamiliar to many Filipino fans who played big roles in their respective squads.

There have been a multitude of trainers who teach one-on-one skills and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it but the same level of attention also needs to go to team play.

We need to train younger players to set screens like Jonas Valanciunas or box out like Nikola Milutinov. We need them to see the floor like Arturs Zagars or Shea Ili. We need them to study the tendencies of their opponents like Aleksa Avramovic or relish the repetition in the shooting drills of Andreas Obst.

We need them to start paying attention to leagues outside the NBA because there’s great basketball being played all over the world. And if our top level in Gilas Pilipinas is going to be successful, it will have to start at the grassroots.

The FIBA World Cup is done and dusted. A lot of effort and resources were spent towards the hosting and that’s why we all need to capitalize on what’s going to be left behind.

Hopefully, the true legacy of hosting the World Cup will not just be the memories of the games but a true shock to the system that will reverberate in the near future.