Senator Sonny Angara believes Philippine sports is “having a moment” now with the unprecedented achievements coming its way.
Speaking at the hearing of the Committee on Sports, Angara noted how Filipino athletes have been delivering victories on different fronts, some of which are milestones in Philippine sports.
The veteran legislator cited the recent victory of tennis star Alex Eala at the US Open junior tournament– giving the Philippines its first ever Grand Slam singles title.
The seasoned lawmaker said Eala’s historic feat came after two equally historic victories by fellow Filipina athletes Hidilyn Diaz, who delivered the Philippines’ first ever gold medal in the Olympics, and Yuka Saso, who won the US Women’s Open in golf in 2021.
“Of all the greats who played tennis, si Alex Eala ang first na nakasungkit ng grand slam sa juniors.”
“I think Philippine sports is having a moment right now. Alex Eala delivered the first tennis grand slam in our history. Of all the greats who played tennis, si Alex Eala ang first na nakasungkit ng grand slam sa juniors. Napakalaking karangalan ang binigay niya sa ating bansa. Remember Yuka Saso won the first grand slam in golf by a Filipina. Hidilyn Diaz gave us our first gold medal and our best performance in the Olympics,” the senator said.
As chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Finance, he noted how the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission has increased over the years as part of the government’s commitment to supporting the development of its athletes, as well as its different sports programs.
Angara said that Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act, which he authored, also contributed to the development of Philippine sports by granting significant cash incentives to winning athletes and their coaches.
As chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), he also aired his optimism about the future of Philippine basketball.
While acknowledging that the task of assembling the Philippine national men’s basketball team or Gilas Pilipinas is challenging, Angara said there are positive developments that bode well for the sport most loved by the entire nation.
“I think we also have a moment in basketball now. For once all the stakeholders are united, whether it’s college sports– the different leagues like the NCAA and UAAP. Dito naman sa PBA sa leadership ni Commissioner Willie Marcial, Chairman Ricky Vargas, talagang napagkaisa nila ang grupo,” he stressed.
Angara said both the collegiate and professional basketball leagues have committed to support Gilas Pilipinas in its preparations for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The Philippines will serve as co-host of the World Cup and according to him, the PBA has committed to holding off its games for four months leading up to the 2023 games in August 2023.
“FIBA World Cup 2023 presents a unique and potentially rewarding opportunity for the Philippines.”
Angara reiterated that FIBA World Cup 2023 presents a unique and potentially rewarding opportunity for the Philippines and for this reason, this effort should be supported by all Filipinos.
With some of the biggest names in international hoops coming over to the Philippines next year, he recalled how FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis emphasized the wide range of opportunities that will come the way of the country when the superstars start arriving to play in the World Cup.
“This is very different from the time nung huling pag host natin nung 1978. Wala pa dyan yung internet, wala pa billion dollar brands. Sabi niya, each of these basketball superstars that will be coming over to the Philippines is a billion-dollar brand in himself. Sabi niya I Hope Philippine officials and Philippine companies realize the marketing opportunities available to them when these people come to the shores of the Philippines, dito sa ating bansa,” Angara said.
“Bigyan natin ng pag suporta ng pag host nito. Definitely I think malaki ang pangangailangan for 2023. Hindi lang milyon o daang milyon ang pinaguusapan dito kundi bilyon. Pero pinakita sa akin ang balik sa Spain when it hosted world cup in 2014 at nung 2019 sa China, parang ang balik ay hindi lang bilyon but tens of billions of dollars, in terms of tourism revenue, in terms of exposure,” he added.
Angara said the preparations for the event require a “whole of government, whole of society, whole of country approach.”
“Hindi lang yung ahensya ng gobyerno ang nagsasama-sama kundi ang buong lipunan para suportahan itong malaking event na mangyayari sa ating bansa,” Angara concluded.