The country’s largest integrated telco PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), together with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, are proud to support the country’s hosting of the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers on February 18-22, 2021.
The FIBA Regional Office in Asia has confirmed the venues for the last window of the international tournament. In this round, Tokyo, Japan; Manama, Bahrain; Doha, Qatar, and Clark, Philippines will host the games of the region’s top players vying for a spot in the much-awaited 2021 FIBA Asia Cup.
Representatives from South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and Hong Kong, and the country’s very own Gilas Pilipinas will stay in an organized and protected bubble tournament in Clark, Pampanga to ensure the health and safety of all participants. This, after the successful bubble in Manama in November, where Gilas swept the series against Thailand.
“This is a major milestone for Philippine sports, and it’s one that we have been working toward for quite some time. We are ready to provide our region’s top players a place to play basketball at the highest level, and we’re also getting a chance to show the world our heart for the game,” said PLDT Chairman Manny V Pangilinan, who also serves as SBP’s Chairman Emeritus. “This is a great opportunity to rally the entire nation to support our athletes and their dreams of succeeding at the world stage, para sa bayan,” he added.
“We are honored to be chosen by FIBA as one of the hosts for its 2021 Asia Cup Qualifiers. We will do our best to provide a safe venue for our athletes, and contribute to the overall success of the international event. This is an opportunity for the Philippines to raise its profile as a sports event destination in the world,” said Sonny Barrios, SBP Executive Director.
Powering sports with technology
PLDT and Smart, together with the MVP Sports Foundation, have always been at the forefront of sports development in the country. This pandemic has served as the proving ground for a lot of relatively new technology, especially for sports worldwide. Here in the Philippines, Smart has powered the recently-concluded PBA Philippine Cup Bubble with 5G technology. To support this level of performance, PLDT and Smart are further ramping up their 5G, LTE and fiber roll out. Smart is upgrading its base stations in key areas across the country to 5G to augment data capacity, alongside deploying additional LTE base stations nationwide.
Smart pioneered the use of wireless 360 cameras powered by 5G to help capture the on-court action efficiently. A 94-foot-wide LED screen was placed beside the court so that the players could also see their spectators.
The coverage of the PBA Philippine Cup finals also resulted in record viewership for the PBA on both TV and digital platforms. Up to millions of viewers tuned in during the best-of-seven series, which was livestreamed on the Facebook pages and local channels of TV5, Cignal, PBA, and even FIBA, which streamed the games globally.
“Through our 5G-powered equipment and fast connectivity, basketball fans were able to enjoy the live court action in the safety of their homes. The future in world-class basketball experience is truly within our reach. We are also thankful to the Philippine Basketball Association for sharing with us their expertise after successfully hosting the PBA Bubble. We’re looking forward to working hand-in-hand with them, including the Philippine government agencies, and other basketball stakeholders in this unique opportunity,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart President and CEO.
“We are excited to show them the same warmth of Filipino hospitality even under these difficult circumstances,” added Panlilio, who also serves as SBP President.