MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is not losing hope that basketball competitions in the 30th Southeast Asian Games will be staged in a venue that could accommodate more fans.
Al Panlilio, SBP president, remains optimistic that organizers of this year’s SEA Games will find a way to present the basketball games the way they should be.
Or at least the games featuring the home team.
“The SBP is hoping all the Gilas Pilipinas games are in a bigger venue. Other games can stay at Filoil,” Panlilio told The STAR Friday.
Panlilio issued the reaction after Houston Filipino Restaurant SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) executive director Ramon Suzara said negotiations with the Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena to host the games have bogged down.
Suzara said Phisgoc tried everything but failed to secure either of the two venues with a minimum seating capacity of 15,000. The Filoil Center can only accommodate 5,500 fans at most.
But a very reliable source told The STAR Friday that the MOA Arena is back on the negotiating table, and a deal could still be reached.
Sports officials are keeping their fingers crossed that basketball games in the SEA Games are held in a bigger, fan-friendly venue.
Suzara announced last Thursday that due to other commitments, the Smart Araneta Coliseum and MOA Arena could not commit to hosting the SEA Games.
“They could not give us the whole dates,” said Suzara. He did not say, however, if either venue could consider hosting the games once it gets to the semis or the finals.
Suzara, who helped create the master plan for the SEA Games hosting, said Phisgoc opened talks with both the Araneta Coliseum and MOA Arena as early as May last year.
But it seemed that the two giant venues have had prior commitments, forcing Phisgoc to look for an alternate venue — in this case the Filoil Center in San Juan.