The International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA’s) landmark 2023 World Cup got underway at the Philippine Arena today (Friday) by smashing the tournament’s attendance record.
Some 38,115 fans were inside the vast 50,000-seat Philippine Arena located at Ciudad de Victoria to watch tournament co-hosts the Philippines fall to a 87-81 defeat against the Dominican Republic.
The previous record for a Basketball World Cup game in an indoor arena dates back to the 1994 World Cup final in Toronto, Canada, when 32,616 spectators witnessed the victory of the USA’s ‘Dream Team 2’ over Russia at the SkyDome.
The 19th edition of FIBA’s flagship event is taking place for the first time across three host nations in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Set to run through to September 10, Araneta Coliseum (Quezon City) and Mall of Asia Arena (Pasay) are also hosting games in the Philippines, while Indonesia and Japan’s venues are Indonesia Arena (Jakarta) and Okinawa Arena (Okinawa City), respectively.
FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 chairman, Richard Carrion, said: “We all knew the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 was going to be special and within the first day we already have evidence of this, having witnessed this historic moment.
“Everyone inside the Philippine Arena will never forget the amazing levels of love for both basketball and the Philippines national team that was cascading around the venue.
“This is just the start for what will be the most memorable event in FIBA’s history and we’re all excited for what lies ahead – both on and off the court. Not only in the Philippines, but also in Japan and Indonesia.”
Philippine Basketball Association (SBP) chairman, Manny V. Pangilinan, added: “Ever since we put in the bid to host the World Cup in 2015, the mission was to showcase the Filipino people’s love for basketball.
“We often say we’re the best fans in the world, but beating the old FIBA attendance record has proven what we have believed all along. To the 38,115 fans at the Philippine Arena, thank you. The world definitely heard us.”
In April, FIBA relocated the World Cup’s Final Phase from the Philippine Arena to Mall of Asia Arena due to traffic concerns, although many reports suggested the former’s prohibition on the selling of alcohol also played a part in the decision.
FIBA said the Final Phase would be played in the 15,000-capacity Mall of Asia Arena and the two games of the Opening Round for the group of the Philippines held in the vast Philippine Arena.
FIBA said the main concern leading to the decision was the requirement to provide consistent and swift transfer of the teams and fans to multiple games over the six days of the Final Phase.