FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers at Clark? It’s getting dimmer everyday

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    THE chances of the government giving the green light to the staging of the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers appear to be dim.

    Gilas Pilipinas broke camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna after the Philippine Sports Commission ordered national sports associations in within affected areas to halt their training due to the spike in COVID-19 cases and a cloud of uncertainties.

    Metro Manila, along with Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna, was placed anew under the strictest enhanced community quarantine since last Monday. The ECQ is in effect until Easter Sunday, April 4, but there’s a possibility it might be extended.

    The final leg of the FIBA Asian Cup qualifiers is tentatively set from June 14 to 20 in Clark.

    Although admitting “it’s been a difficult stretch” the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is supporting the PSC directive.

    “As always, we will remain supportive of the decisions coming from the PSC and will also strictly follow the relevant precautionary measure from the Department of Health and the IATF,” SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement.

    “The timing is unfortunate because our Gilas Pilipinas pool has been putting a lot of work to prepare for FIBA competitions in the coming months. It’s been a difficult stretch for the SBP and the team as COVID-19 has affected so many of our plans, but we have no other choice but to adjust and move forward,” he added.

    The all-amateur nationals will also try to gain a Tokyo Games berth in the Olympic qualifying tournament from June 29 to July 4 in Belgrade, Serbia.

    The training camp began last March 15 with Ateneo playmaker SJ Belangel and Far Eastern University counterpart RJ Abarrientos, Ateneo High School standout LeBron Lopez, the Eagles’ Gian Mamuyac, Josh Lazaro, Geo Chiu, Troy Mallillin, Jason Credo, and Kyle Ong among those who heeded the call.

    Former Nazareth School of National University standout Carl Tamayo, who moved to University of the Philippines last year, completed the 10 new recruits.

    Returning players from the last leg of the qualifiers are Ange Kouame, a naturalized player candidate, Dwight Ramos, Dave Ildefonso, and Chris Koon, who served as practice player in the second window.

    2019 special Gilas draftees Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, and twins Matt and Mike Nieto are also expected to boost the pool along with Jordan Heading, William Navarro, Tzaddy Rangel, and Jaydee Tungcab, who were tabbed in special Gilas proceedings last March 14.

    Panlilio thanked the players and coaching staff who showed up, then added: “Right now, we all have to hunker down and stay safe at home. We thank our players, coaches, and staff for soldiering on amidst the difficult situation.”