The euphoria over Gilas Pilipinas’ silver finish in the FIBA Asia Championship will probably stay in the memories of this generation for a long time. What most people don’t know, however, is that we almost didn’t witness how our gallant players do it in the flesh!
FIBA, being the global organization that governs international basketball competition rules, has very strict policies in choosing the right venue for its games. For the recently held FIBA Asia Cup, countries from various parts of Asia were asked to bid for the right to host this year’s games.
Prior to the decision, our Samahang Basketbolista ng Pilipinas (SBP) invited FIBA Asia Secretary General Hagop Khajirian to look at our proposed venue. Thinking it was The Big Dome (which he is already familiar with), Mr. Khajirian felt no need to come to the Philippines. But when told that it would be the MOA Arena, he obliged and was said to be impressed by what he saw. In fact, the Arena management immediately had a hint that the Philippines would win the bid since Mr. Khajirian “labeled” the rooms right away (president’s room, officials’ room, etc.) as he was doing the inspection.
Initially, Lebanon won the bid. However, due to safety and security reasons, FIBA decided to award the hosting privilege to the Philippines instead. Aside from MOA Arena, Ninoy Aquino Stadium was chosen as the alternative venue. There was supposed to be 5 games to be held at the alternative venue, most of which would be games supposedly involving the team from Lebanon. Unfortunately for the Lebanese contingent, they were disqualified due to internal disagreements. Apparently, there were several basketball organizations who wanted to lead the Lebanese national team. It seemed the dispute was not resolved, forcing the FIBA organization to leave the team out of this year’s competitions.
MOA Arena obviously met the very high standards of the FIBA organization, with very few alterations requested. One was for the media center to be moved near the entrance. One of the executive suites was converted into a prayer room for the Muslim delegates, while another room was used as a doping room.
There were other reasons why an international and prestigious organization like FIBA gave the Philippines, and the Arena, the nod. The FIBA organizers also required 19 rooms to be used for various purposes, which MOA Arena easily delivered since it has 23 multi-function rooms. Other venues would only have 15 at most. Each room is fully air-conditioned, with wi-fi internet access and comfortable furnishings. Security was also a major requirement, which MOA Arena also passed especially since it has dedicated entrances for players and officials, VIPs and the audience.
Sophisticated equipment also impressed the organizers. In fact, there were more than enough facilities that they were not able to use. The whole arena is installed with fiber optics, giving free wi-fi signal to the entire venue and making international broadcast coverage so much easier. Those seated even as far as the general admission section can receive wi-fi signals.
The MOA Arena was previously acknowledged and featured by international broadcast organizations like FOX Hong Kong and CNN.
Come to think of it, the Philippines won more than the silver for basketball from the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. With MOA Arena’s successful hosting as a venue for the games, we also won the trust and confidence of the world when it comes to hosting international events as a whole. Come October, the NBA will have one of its pre-season games at the venue, with the Indiana Pacers going up against the Houston Rockets. Don’t forget more concerts (Pitbull and Rihanna this September) and family entertainment (Mickey Mouse doing a magic show) will also be held at the versatile MOA Arena.
If you haven’t seen any show at MOA Arena for any reason, try to visit and see what all the fuss is about. Try a regularly scheduled PBA or UAAP game for starters. I assure you, you won’t regret it. As for the MOA Arena management, good job, fellas!