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Before the start of the three-day FIBA Central Board meeting on Friday, the Japan Basketball Association hosted a welcome party for the sport’s executives at a Tokyo hotel. The dignitaries included FIBA president Horacio Muratore and FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann on Thursday night.

One of the board’s biggest planned topics of discussion is the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The board is scheduled to select the host nation for the 2019 edition of the global tournament, choosing between China and the Philippines on Friday evening.

“We have two great nations fighting for this,” Baumann said.

The Philippines hosted the 1978 FIBA World Championship. For China, it would be the first time.

In 2019, it will mark the the third time that an Asian country will host the men’s tourney. Japan hosted the 2006 extravaganza.

On Friday morning, Yao Ming, the former NBA center and China’s superstar, and boxing great Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines are set to speak to the media, making the final rally cry for their nations’ bids.

Muratore said that the board plans to also discuss the 2023 World Cup during the gathering of FIBA leaders.

Meanwhile, FIBA’s suspension of the Japan Basketball Association, which was handed down last November, is expected to be officially lifted before the meeting wraps up on Sunday.

“We know that the people of Japanese basketball have done so much under the guidance of (JBA) president (Saburo) Kawabuchi to restore its issues,” Muratore said of lifting the ban. “And they’ve successfully met all the qualifications that they had to overcome.”

Welcome party participants included 2020 Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee chief Yoshiro Mori, Olympic minister Toshiaki Endo, Kawabuchi and 2004 Olympic hammer throw gold medalist Koji Murofushi.

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