LUKA IN MANILA SOONER? | SBP says PH could take over if stormy weather washes out Japan-hosted FIBA WC games

Luka Doncic and Slovenia play their first set of FIBA World Cup games in Okinawa unless a typhoon hits the city soon.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--There is a possibility that Filipino fans could get to see Luka Doncic in action sooner than expected.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio revealed on Tuesday that there is a chance, albeit a slim one, that the Philippines could absorb all the FIBA World Cup games that are hosted by Japan.

Panlilio said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Meralco Gym in Pasig that the scenario could only happen if a strong storm washes out Okinawa.

"As a contingency, even Okinawa made us aware... they've spoken to us about the worst-case scenario: if they cannot play the games in Okinawa, they will move those two groups to the Philippines," Panlilio said.

As it stands, the Okinawa Arena remains home to Groups E and F of the FIBA World Cup first round.

Group E, tagged as the "group of death", consists of co-host Japan, Germany, Finland, and Australia, while Group F consists of the Doncic-led Slovenia, Cape Verde, Georgia, and Venezuela.

However, if a storm indeed hits Japan very soon, the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City and SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay are ready to host the two groups according to Panlilio.

This means both arenas could host as many as four games in a single gameday depending on when the Groups E and F games will be played.

Typhoon Khanun ravaged Okinawa two weeks ago, washing out the city and causing some concerns about its FIBA World Cup hosting.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios then relayed to some reporters after the PSA Forum what FIBA told them about how Japan usually recovers from a storm.

 "Sinabihan tayo ng FIBA... yung huling experience nila sa Okinawa, several days [bago matuloy]. Pag naulit yun, parang mare-rain out na practically yung tournament kasi group phase lang sila," Barrios said.

However, he added that the contingency plan is a testament to how FIBA is confident that the Philippines will successfully pull off the first-ever multi-nation World Cup hosting as the main host country.

"Ganoon sila kabilib sa atin," he further said.

However, Barrios calls on everyone to pray for better weather during the entirety of the FIBA World Cup from Aug. 25-Sept. 10 in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.

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