LAOAG CITY – The prestigious Naismith Trophy received a warm welcome at the Laoag International Airport on Monday, signaling the start of three-day tour around the province’s iconic sites around Ilocos Norte.

Joined by Filipino basketball icon and GILAS ambassador, Arwind Santos, the Naismith Trophy will be featured in key tourism areas of Ilocos Norte from Aug. 21 to 23. These include the Burgos wind farm, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Suba sand dunes, and Robinsons Place Ilocos.

“This is not just a provincial event. It’s a world event. The video shoot here will be shown worldwide and this is why we always put our best foot forward,” said Perry Martinez, head of the Metro Ilocos Norte Council, in a press conference held at the Ilocos Norte Capitol, following the FIBA team’s arrival at the Laoag airport.

On Aug. 23, the most coveted trophy which originally came from Spain will be displayed in public at the activity center of Robinsons Mall Ilocos.

With the Philippines serving as the main World Cup host this year, the Naismith trophy, named after basketball inventor James Naismith, has visited different tourism hotspots in the country since last week. The last stop is in Ilocos Norte until the games are held from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10.

While in Ilocos Norte, Santos expressed gratitude to both national and provincial officials for their support in hosting the FIBA event.

“We are so thankful for the all-out support and for having us here,” said Santos as he expressed hopes that more Ilocano youth will be enticed to play basketball.

For her part, Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Cecilia Araneta-Marcos thanked the FIBA organizers for considering Ilocos Norte as one of the stops of the Naismith trophy.

“We are honored to host you and we look forward to all the FIBA games. It must be exciting to watch as it will be shown on Cignal and everyone can enjoy watching the game wherever we are,” said Marcos, as she expressed hopes for the Philippine team’s victory in the FIBA World Cup. (PNA)