Philippine Arena, Araneta Coliseum e Mall of Asia Arena FIBA World Cup 2023
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In the leadup to the 2023 FIBA World Cup, we look at the three Manila venues: the Philippine Arena, Araneta Coliseum, and Mall of Asia Arena

This is part one of our two-part look at the facilities hosting the basketball world championships, scheduled for August 25 – September 10 in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan

Philippine Arena, Araneta Coliseum e Mall of Asia Arena FIBA World Cup 2023
By Eugenio Petrillo -

When we looked at the 2023 basketball calendar back at the start of the year, we put a big red circle around August 25 – September 10, that is, the two weeks of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The most important event on the international basketball calendar, the competition is now up to its 19th edition. After the games held in China in 2019, the World Cup is returning to Asia, this time across three host nations: the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan. The 32 best national teams will battle it out to take their place on the winners’ podium, including the Italian Azzurri.

Italy will play its first match in Manila, where it hopes to stay since the competition finals will all be held in the Philippine capital. After a more than positive European Championship in 2022, Italbasket will be keen to build on its excellent performance. With the appointment of Gianmarco Pozzecco as Italy’s head coach, the true strength of the team now lies in the cohesion of the group. When, in the past, technical and, in particular, physical skills failed to come together, team spirit and hunger prevailed.

The Mall of Asia Arena during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games 5x5 Basketball Tournament Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)


Like any high-stakes championship, the opposing teams are among the best in the world. But the teams are all quite different, and, for the moment, it would be hard to say who the favorite is. Serbia, which must be seen as a genuine contender, will be faced with more difficulties than expected, after announcing two critical absences: Nikola Jokic, who has climbed to the top of the NBA world with the Denver Nuggets, and Vasilije Micic, who only recently began his NBA career but is an undisputed star in Europe with recent back-to-back EuroLeague Championship wins with Anadolu Efes.

And the competition will be fierce. There will also be a crop of Italo-American stars, such as Paolo Banchero (who was courted in vain by the Italian federation); players from reigning European champions Spain, coached by Italian Sergio Scariolo, also head coach of Virtus Bologna; France, a team hungry for redemption; as well as Greece and Slovenia, with the phenomenal Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.

Like last year for the World Cup in Qatar, THE PLAN is looking at the five Asian venues that will host the 2023 FIBA World Cup. This first installment begins with the three arenas in Manila: Philippine Arena, Araneta Coliseum, and Mall of Asia Arena.

 

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Philippine Arena: a record-breaking facility

Philippine Arena Photography by Patrick Roque / Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)


With its impressive dimensions, the Philippine Arena was originally intended to host the final phase of the 2023 World Cup. The organizers, however, later opted to use the Mall of Asia Arena instead, leaving the Philippine Arena to host two opening matches: Angola vs. Italy and Dominican Republic vs. Philippines.

Designed by Populous, the Philippine Arena is the largest indoor sports facility in the world, seating up to 55,000 fans. Opened in July 2014, it was immediately recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest mixed-use indoor theater in the world. It’s located in Ciudad de Victoria, a tourist area around 20 miles north of Manila. It occupies an approximately 99,200 m2 site and is topped by a dome that covers over 9000 m2. The oval roof measures 227 m by 179 m and is supported by 9000 t of steel. The arena, made up of several structures so as to improve earthquake resistance, is 65 m high. The venue is fully air-conditioned and is intended for sports, religious, and concert events. The surrounding outdoor areas were designed by PWP Landscape Architecture.

The seating is green, white, and red, like the Iglesia ni Cristo seal – a church with a large congregation in the Philippines – and is divided into lower and upper rings of 25,000 seats each. The semicircle arrangement recalls an ancient Greek amphitheater. The arena has VIP and conference rooms, which will be set up especially for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The exterior of the structure is oval and has illuminated panels that change color at night.

 

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Mall of Asia Arena: the venue for the final games

Mall of Asia Arena Courtesy FIBA


With an impressive area of over 64,000 m2, Mall of Asia Arena is a five-level ultra-modern facility equipped with cutting-edge technology. Its massive façade, made entirely of glass and in the shape of an eye, symbolizes the feast for the eyes that spectators will experience at any event.

Designed by Arquitectonica, the facility is located in Pasay, south of Manila. Opened in 2012, it’s flexible and can be adapted to hosting all kinds of events. For basketball matches, it can hold up to 15,000 spectators. Inside, the Premier Suites are the first executive suites in Southeast Asia. In all, there are 41 suites, a private restaurant, assorted luxury boxes, and a coffee lounge.

The facility hosts Philippine championship games, but was also the main venue for the 2013 FIBA ​​Asia Championship, during which the final match between host Philippines and Iran was played in front of 20,000 fans. The NBA has also used the Mall of Asia Arena, choosing it for the first preseason game in Southeast Asia in October 2013 between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers.

 

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The legendary Araneta Coliseum: the scene of great fights

Coliseum Arena Courtesy FIBA


Araneta Coliseum, also known as The Big Dome, is an indoor multi-purpose sports arena in Araneta City, part of the Quezon City area, the largest city in metropolitan Manila. It’s among the largest indoor arenas in Asia and has one of the largest domes in the world.

Built in 1960, it’s taken on legendary status as the setting for events such as the Thrilla in Manila, a boxing match between legends Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier on October 1, 1975, for which it was temporarily renamed the Philippine Coliseum. Three years later, the arena became the epicenter of the basketball world when it hosted the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

In the 2010s, the facility underwent a major renovation and modernization project. Curving escalators were installed to improve access to the upper sections, and a large parking lot was built with spaces for up to 2000 cars. The façade was also renovated, while inside, seating was expanded and upgraded.

 

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Credits

Philippine Arena
Location: Ciudad de Victoria, Manila, Philippine
Completion: 2014
Project by Populous

Mall of Asia Arena
Location: Pasay, Manila, Philippine
Completion: 2012
Project by Arquitectonica

Araneta Coliseum
Location
: Quezon City, Manila, Philippine
Completion: 1960

Please refer to the individual images in the gallery to look through the photo credits


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