Mall of Asia Arena is the new host of the final stage of the 2023 FIBA World Cup to be held in Manila in September, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced Friday.
"The priority that led to this decision is the experience of our fans. This is in service of the Filipino basketball fan, as well as those arriving from all over the world," said SBP President Al Panlilio in a statement.
Philippine Arena was originally tapped to host the final stage, but ultimately the SBP and FIBA decided to go in another direction. The massive venue situated in Bocaue will instead host the historic first game of Gilas Pilipinas on Aug. 25.
"We thank our brothers and sisters from the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Philippine Arena Management, specifically, for being a true partner in this endeavor and we appreciate their support of the final decision that was reached."
Under the original plan, three venues -- Philippine Arena, Mall of Asia Arena and Smart-Araneta Coliseum -- were to be tapped as venues for the event. MOA Arena and Araneta Coliseum were to host eight teams each in the group stages, the second round and the classification round for 17th to 32nd place.
The final phase includes the quarterfinals, classification matches for fifth to eighth places, semifinals and medal matches.
"The main consideration leading to the decision was the requirement to provide consistent and swift transfer for the teams and fans to multiples games over the six days of the final phase," said David Crocker, executive director for the World Cup.
"Despite improvements tested with transport and traffic engineers, the board came to the conclusion that an event with multiple sessions in one day like the final phase of the World Cup must be delivered to the standards required for the players and fans experience.
Aside from the traffic situation, sources told ESPN that other issues over Philippine Arena reportedly brought up were the distance of the court from the audience, lack of food concessionaires, and prohibition on the selling of alcohol.
The last issue is a concern given that San Miguel Corporation is a major sponsor of the event.
Another issue reportedly included the location of the technical table, which blocks the view of some spectators.