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SBP chairman slams lack of world-class sport training facilities in Philippines

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 08: Andray Blatche #1 of the Philippines National Team reacts after injuring his shoulder during the classification round of 2019 FIBA World Cup between Iran and Philippines on September 8, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Xinyu Cui/Getty Images)

Philippine Senator Sonny Angara, the chairman of Philippines basketball federation, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), is pushing for more world-class sports training facilities in the country.

Speaking at the Philippine Professional Sports Summit at the Philippine International Convention Centre in Pasay City yesterday, he compared the country’s sports facilities unfavourably against fellow Southeast Asian country Singapore, which has 21 national sports training centres.

Angara said: “We obviously lack sports facilities compared to our neighbour countries like Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

“We already started giving support at the grassroots level. But still, it is not enough.”

Angara has supported improving training allowances and facilities for Filipino athletes, and sponsored a National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Law in 2016 that granted bigger cash rewards and benefits for sportsmen and sportswomen. He has also sponsored a bill for the creation of the Philippine Sports Training Centre as well as laws establishing sports academies and training centres around the country.

Currently, Filipino national athletes train at two government-run facilities – the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the Philsports Complex. Both are currently being renovated by the Philippine Sports Commission, and Angara bemoaned the lack of alternative venues, saying: “We only have two that can accommodate 10,000 or less. We also don’t have public golf courses except in the military camps.”

The lack of training facilities is considered a particularly acute challenge for the SBP, which is seeking redemption after the national team finished last and failed to win a game at the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China. The Philippines is co-hosting the 2023 Fiba World Cup along with Japan and Indonesia, and is assured a spot in the competition as host.

According to ABS-CBN News, SBP president Al Panlilio said: “We need to assess the right framework in order for us to do better and perform better in front of our fans here in the Philippines. So we’ll have to do a lot of strategic planning and we are scheduled to do that soon.”

The ultimate objective for the SBP is for the national team to regularly qualify for the World Cup, not just in 2023 as hosts, Panlilio said.

“Making the World Cup should be a norm. So, even after the 2023 World Cup, I think we have to work very hard also to make it to the next World Cup…

“That’s something that we will work on and something that we need to assess and something that we will have to seriously think of moving forward.”