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2023 FIBA World Cup

SM elevates MOA Arena to international standards for FIBA WC


A virtual red carpet welcome and a glittering final day coronation await 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup teams that will set foot starting August 25 on the floors of the sparkling, state-of-the-art entertainment and sports mecca known as SM Mall of Asia Arena (MOA Arena) at the Bay Area in Pasay City.

While the grand task of setting a new FIBA Basketball World Cup attendance record is designated for the vast Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, and the intense mission of Gilas Pilipinas to secure a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics will be in full swing at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, it is the MOA Arena that will take center stage come September. It is here that the day of reckoning will unfold, hosting the Final Phase of the event, including the highly anticipated championship game, where Spain aims to defend their title.

Mark Solano, the venue head appointed by the FIBA Basketball World Cup Local Organizing Committee, assures that the MOA Arena is fully prepared for this significant event.

Drawing inspiration from the coaching philosophy of the legendary ‘Wizard of Westwood’, John Wooden, who led the UCLA Bruins to an impressive 10 US NCAA Championships in a 12-year span, Solano has embraced Wooden’s principle that “failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

This transformation came about following FIBA’s decision to shift the last six game days of the World Cup from the Philippine Arena to the MOA Arena last April, driven by logistical considerations.

Solano emphasizes, “MOA Arena had a genuine intention to elevate the venue for the World Cup. Particularly when it was announced that the Final Phase would take place here, the preparation was elevated to international standards.”

With this unexpected turn of events, the MOA Arena now serves as the epicenter of the 19th edition of the Basketball World Cup.

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In addition to its initial role in housing the Group Phase’s first round for teams in Groups C and D, and the second round for Group J, as well as the 17th-32nd classification matches, it now also accommodates the quarterfinals, 5th-8th classification games, battles for 5th and 7th places, semi-finals, battle for 3rd place, and the ultimate showdown – the Final.

The Final Phase becomes the arena where qualifiers from the Group Phase in Okinawa and Jakarta will converge to compete for podium finishes. The playing court’s perimeter has received a refreshing makeover, and the eye-catching transformation of the jumbo-sized cube high above mid-court catches the eye.

Under the guidance of FIBA’s George Evangelista, a Filipino who has previous experience at the MOA Arena, a new players’ entrance has been erected, ensuring quicker access from the bus drop-off area to the changing rooms. Seats have been refurbished, walls repainted, and the dugouts enhanced.

Solano explains, “All the toilets, cubicles, and even the tiles are new.” Notably, showerheads capable of accommodating 7-foot-tall players have been installed.

On the second floor, a Naismith Lounge has been established to cater to VIPs, including former NBA stars and current FIBA World Cup ambassadors Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol.

To facilitate media coverage, a media tribune capable of accommodating 328 foreign and local journalists has been constructed, with a working area ready for 252 reporters and photographers. A spacious media catering area has also been set up.

Furthermore, designated areas at the concourse will host numerous shops offering a variety of souvenirs for purchase. The coordination of traffic flow to and from the venue has been meticulously arranged in collaboration with the Pasay LGU, the police, the MOA Arena management, and the LOC’s security and transport teams, all contributing to a smooth and hassle-free experience.

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In conclusion, Mark Solano, who recently undertook a walkthrough with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Sonny Barrios and MOA Arena Senior Vice President and GM Arnel Gonzales, expresses his excitement: “It will be truly exhilarating to witness, as the entire venue is adorned like never before.”

The debut matches at the MOA Arena on Friday feature Montenegro versus Mexico at 4:45 p.m. and Lithuania against Egypt at 8:30 p.m. Single game tickets can be purchased at smtickets.com.

As the countdown begins, the stage is set for a thrilling chapter in the FIBA Basketball World Cup’s history, and all eyes are on the MOA Arena to deliver an unforgettable spectacle.

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