The basketball competition of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will still be played at the SM Mall of Asia Arena after all.
Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) head Tats Suzara announced on Wednesday that the 5-on-5 basketball games for both the men's and women's division will be held at MOA Arena.
"MOA Arena is a friend. They have been supporting big sporting events. They're the only world-class venue, in my opinion, in the Philippines. They have delivered a lot of world-class sporting events, not only entertainment," Suzara said.
"[After] going with a lot of meetings and discussions, and telephone calls, finally we have this venue. I'm sure everyone is very happy," he beamed.
News broke last week that the venues for the basketball games were relegated to the Filoil Flying V Centre. With the games now at the MOA Arena, the arena in San Juan will instead be the home for 3x3 basketball.
According to Herman Medina-Cue, SM Lifestyle Chief Operating Officer, there were a number of events that initially prevented the games to be held at MOA.
"There were a lot of complications because of advance bookings and reservations that we had to work out with different entities to make the schedule available," Medina-Cue explained, mentioning that the dates December 1 to 10 have now been freed up to accommodate the basketball games.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio met with Suzara and POC President Ricky Vargas in Hong Kong last weekend to discuss and finalize plans to bring the SEA Games basketball tournament back to MOA Arena.
"We heard the voices of our people. We were also made aware that some sectors have started to put the blame on certain agencies without really understanding the complexities of the situation," said Panlilio. "The best way to solve an issue is to discuss peacefully and find ways to find an acceptable solution."
"Holding an event in this magnitude is a shared responsibility among different sports leaders and even our people. This event is a showcase of our capacity to hold massive regional sporting events and can play as a window for other countries to look at our country with a more positive outlook. Instead of playing the blame game, we took it upon ourselves to find an answer to the clamor. So, together with POC President Ricky, PHISGOC COO Tats and the SBP, we were able to find a win-win solution," Panlilio added.
"PHISGOC COO Tats initiated the discussion and asked for our support to bring basketball back to a bigger venue and give our countrymen an opportunity to cheer for our team."
Suzara added that SM MOA will also hold the SEA Games' ice skating, speed skating, and ice hockey events. Phisgoc is also exploring possible venues in SM like the Sky Dome for the Esports events.
The volleyball competition, however, will still take place at the Philsports Arena.
ESPN5's JC Ansis contributed to this report.