FIBA Asia Cup battle still has no timetable


    THE PBA going on bubble to resume it season would entail some of its prized players being unavailable for inclusion in the national team for the continuation of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifying windows.

    That distinct possibility is not a big concern for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas right now.

    According to SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, the  coronavirus’ lingering threat to each member country may just force the FIBA to squeeze in the qualifiers’ remaining windows to February next year.

    “Wala pang final timetable ‘yung FIBA Asia Cup,” Barrios told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.

    “Supposedly, November and February ‘yung mga dates,” added Barrios. “Pero  walang definite pa kung saan lalaruin at anong petsa. In fact, very unofficially, ang sense ko ‘yung November (games) ipu-push back ng February.”

    Even PBA commissioner Willie Marcial admitted he is playing it by ear as far as the regional tourney is concerned. “Wala pang liwanag doon. Pag-uusapan pa lahat iyon pag medyo malinaw na,” he said.

    Gilas Pilipinas manhandled Indonesia 100-70 last Feb. 23 and was supposed to take on South Korea on Nov. 27 before tackling Thailand three days later. The Filipinos were also scheduled for return matches against the Koreans and Indons in February, as well as what should have been the first match against the Thais originally set also last February.

    Should the November games push through, the SBP would be hard-pressed finding pro players who could augment the national team, which includes predominantly young Gilas Cadets.

    As per PBA plans, its bubble would run until Dec. 15 at most with its eliminations and quarterfinals phases only projected to finish by mid-November. As part of the league’s safety protocols, no one may go out of the bubble until his team is out of the running and nobody would be allowed back in.

    Indonesia game standout Thirdy Ravena should be available as well as Greg Slaughter, who has repeatedly expressed his desire to represent the country despite making the US his home base since January.

    Even Calvin Abueva could be tapped by the SBP should the forward be given clearance by the PBA, which still has him on indefinite suspension.

    But June Mar Fajardo, still to fully recuperate from his shin injury, would be out as well as the likes of Magnolia’s Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang, Phoenix’s Matthew Wright, and TNT’s  Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario, whose mother teams are expected to go deep in the PBA battles.

    If plans do not miscarry and mostly if the government allows it, the PBA plans to start its next season in March.

    That should suit the SBP just fine since its desired PBA players would then be freed up for national service.

    But the SBP would still be faced with other uncertainties regarding the Asia Cup and what FIBA’s next step would be.

    “Ang ginagawa nila ngayon, nag-sa-survey iyan, ano-ano sit’wasyones ng mga members ng FIBA Asia qualifiers, in terms of the pandemic,” noted Barrios.

    “Kanya-kanya kasing travel restrictions, quarantine regulations,” added Barrios.

    “And then, most of all, sino ang mag-ho-host? Sino ang country na handang mag-host ng isang qualifier during the pandemic…. Kaya nga wait-and-see kaming lahat na member countries.”