THE SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is making every effort to ensure the smooth staging of two major pre-FIBA World Cup functions this month.

A long line of prominent personalities and executives in international basketball is set to arrive in the country for the FIBA Central Board meeting on April 28 and the FIBA World Cup Draw on April 29.

“All the top heavyweights of the FIBA will be here,” SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said in the Power and Play program on Cignal.

SBP Chairman Emeritus and FIBA Central Board Member Manny V. Pangilinan will host the meeting to be attended by FIBA President Hamane Niang of Mali, Secretary-General Andreas Zagklis of Greece and other high-powered delegates.

World Cup Ambassador and Argentina legend Luis Scola is expected to grace the draw at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where the groupings of the 32-team field will be finalized.

Gilas Pilipinas has been placed in Pot 1 along with the highest-ranked squads like No. 1 and defending champion Spain and No. 2 and Olympic gold medalist USA.

“Once we identified sino ang ka-grupo natin, it’s homework time for (Gilas) coach Chot (Reyes and assistants) Tim (Cone) and Jong (Uichico),” said Mr. Barrios.

Main target for Gilas is to get past the first round in the global extravaganza blasting off Aug. 25 to Sept. 10.

As main host of the three-country set-up with Japan and Indonesia, the Philippines is serving as hub for four groups in the preliminaries at the Big Dome and MOA Arena and the final phase at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena. — Olmin Leyba