Who’s who: NBA legends attending FIBA World Cup Draw 2023 in Manila

April 28, 2023 - 5:49 PM
Composite photo of Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming and Luis Scola, all three basketball legends will attend the FIBA World Cup Draw at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, April 29 (DirkNowitzki, Yao, FIBAWC/Facebook)

Three basketball stars have arrived in the Philippines to witness FIBA World Cup Draw 2023 this Saturday, April 29.

The Philippines is co-hosting the 18th tournament for the first time alongside Japan and Indonesia.

This marks the first time for this world cup to have three countries as hosts. The previous tournament was hosted by China in 2019.

The following basketball icons will grace the star-studded draw ceremony:

  • Yao Ming from China
  • Dirk Nowitzki from Germany
  • Luis Scola from Spain

Nowitzki arrived in Manila on Wednesday, April 26.

Having arrived two days ahead of the event, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer was spotted making a short tour of Tagaytay City in Cavite.

Nowitzki also made his fans happy along the way. He greeted them, took pictures with them, and even signed some of his National Basketball Association (NBA) collectibles.

Scola arrived on Thursday evening, April 27.

In a chanced interview with a reporter, Scola expressed his excitement for the coming ceremony and for his Filipino fans.

“It’s a huge basketball fan base here, it’s huge. There [are] a few places in the world that [have] a passion for basketball as we have here in [the] Philippines so it’s a great opportunity,” Scola said in the video.

Lastly, Ming landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday, April 28.

Gretchen Ho on social media commented about how tall the former Chinese basketball player was as compared to the clearance height of the airport.

“Dirk Nowitzki stands at 7 feet, while Yao Ming stands at 7 feet and 6 inches. Check out how he fits… into our airports??! Hahahaha,” Ho said in her post.

The short footage showed Ming lowering his head to get through the airport’s exit door. He was surrounded by airport security and other staff.

More about the NBA legends

Scola is a well-known basketball figure in Argentina who brought home Olympic gold in 2004. He’s also a global ambassador of the FIBA World Cup.

Nowitzki has also a celebrated career as a former member of the Dallas Mavericks. He is currently a board member of the FIBA Players’ Commission.

Ming has been a history-maker for Asia and China in the past international sports events during his time. In 2016, he was inducted into the prestigious Basketball Hall of Fame.

Aside from basketball players, other celebrities to headline the draw ceremony include the following:

  • Catriona Gray as FIBA World Cup ambassador of the Philippines
  • LA Tenorio, also the country’s FIBA World Cup ambassador
  • Sarah Geronimo
  • Billy Crawford
  • Saweetie

READ: Sarah Geronimo, Billy Crawford, Saweetie performing at FIBA World Cup 2023 draw 

The FIBA World Cup Draw will be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City this Saturday.

The qualifiers will run from August 25 to September 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.