MANILA – Boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao travelled to Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday afternoon to join the Philippine delegation in the bidding of hosting the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Together with Pacquiao was his wife Jinkee, his public information officer Aqui Zonio and Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) international affairs deputy director Butch Antonio.
The new arrivals met with SBP executive director Sonny Barrios and SBP president Manny Pangilinan on Wednesday.
The bidding will be held on Friday with interested parties, the Philippines and China, pitching and showing their 20-minute presentations before the FIBA Central Committee. The FIBA will then decide which country will be awarded the hosting of the World Cup.
“As a world champion and now, a congressman, I always stand up for what I believe is right. And I believe our country hosting the Fiba World Cup is right not just for the Philippines, but right for the sport of basketball on a worldwide scale,” Pacquiao said in a Spin.ph report.
“That’s why I’m standing right behind our bid committee when it presents in Tokyo. We are the one country that can give basketball the worldwide attention it deserves and can help take the sport to the next level,” he added.
Not known to many, Pacquiao has also been into basketball and even served as the head coach of Mahindra (formerly KIA Motors) in the PBA.
Aside from Pacquiao, Filipino-American Hollywood actor Lou Diamond Phillips will also help persuade the committee to grant the hosting to the Philippines.
Miami Heat’s Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra, NBA legend David Robinson and superstar Kobe Bryant were also reportedly asked to join the bid team.
“Malaking bagay if we can bring those NBA stars… pero siyempre malaking bentahe yung Pacquiao natin,” an unnamed source earlier said. “Nakita kasi ni boss MVP (Pangilinan) na si Manny ang tunay na nagre-represent ng Philippine sports. He is revered all over the world.)
(It’s a big deal if we can bring those NBA stars… but of course having Pacquiao is already a big advantage… because boss MVP saw Manny as the true representation of the Philippine sports. He is revered all over the world.)
Former Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes hoped that the country wins in the bidding.
“With the World Cup 2019, we are not only able to show the world what the sport means to the Philippines, but the opportunity to host a world-class competition like this will further inspire Filipinos both in the Philippines and the 10 million across the globe to chase their dreams,” Reyes said.
“We also believe that it will offer similar inspiration to other players right across Asia,” he added.