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Barrios hints at possible PHI-AUS clash at PH Arena

The Philippine Arena is now being eyed as venue for the Gilas-Australia game. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

TAGUIG--It looks like the staging of the FIBA 3x3 World Cup there will not be only significant basketball event at the Philippine Arena at the middle of the year.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said on Thursday that the organization looks at the said stadium in Bocaue to be the site of Gilas' FIBA World Cup Qualifiers game against Australia during the third window from June 25-July 3.

"Sa July, Philippine Arena naman ang tinitignan natin," he told reporters during the launch of the FIBA 3x3 World Cup at the Bonifacio High Street activity area.

Once made official, the 55,000-seater dome will become Gilas' third home for the FIBA WCQ with its opening home assignment against Chinese Taipei being scheduled at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City and its Feb. 25 game against Japan to be held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, a proof that SBP has no preference on where it wants to have the Gilas home games.

"Wala tayong fine-favor," added Barrios. "Sinusubukan nating lahat."

He also bared that it was FIBA that told the SBP to make the PH Arena a venue for international basketball competitions to be hosted by the Philippines ahead of the 2023 FIBA WC hosting.

"The truth is FIBA encourages us to try Philippine Arena even for the 2023 hosting," the former PBA commissioner continued.

Barring possible hindrances, the Australian lineup for the June-July FIBA WCQ window could feature NBA players like former first overall pick Andrew Bogut and Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, which could attract a lot of fans; thus, the need for a larger venue for the said match.

For now, the SBP's focus, according to Barrios, is on attracting more fans to the 3x3 WC on June 8-12.

"Pinag-uusapan pa namin how to make it very easy for the fans to come in," he continued while also saying that he asked Senator Joel Villanueva to "cater to nearby communities" and invite them to watch the games as well.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno