PH among teams playing in 1st FIBA Esports Open

While "offline" basketball takes a back seat, online hoops will take centerstage next weekend. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--While FIBA is awaiting for the real basketball game to return, it will be delving to the esports realm.

On Friday, the global governing body for basketball announced that it will stage its very first FIBA Esports Open from June 19-21.

Frank Leenders, FIBA's director general for media and marketing services, sees this event as a breakthrough especially that the basketball fans are still mainly stuck at home to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The esports initiative was identified by the FIBA Central Board as important and consistent with the strategic objective to enlarge the FIBA family. In these challenging times, we feel encouraged by the enthusiasm of some of our national federations who are already active in this space and have been our charter partners during the last few months," Leenders said.

Seventeen teams including one from the Philippines will participate in the inaugural edition of the said event.

The other countries that were invited for the FIBA Esports Open are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Cyprus, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

Each team will consist of seven players, the main quintet and two reserves. All the matches will be played online in NBA 2K.

"FIBA is extremely proud and excited to start its esports journey with the FIBA Esports Open 2020, a pilot project of exhibition games between national teams in collaboration with NBA 2K," added Leenders.

Jason Argent, senior vice president of basketball operations at 2K, then said, "Through these matches, we’re excited to be able to celebrate the global appeal of basketball."

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