FIBA qualifiers at Clark canceled


    ADD the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers to the sporting events set to be mothballed.

    The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas yesterday announced that the final leg of the qualifiers set to be held in a bubble in Clark from Feb. 18 to 22 has been cancelled due to the health risks and uncertainties brought about by the deadly pandemic.

    “The SBP wanted nothing else than to be with the international basketball community as it attempts to bounce back in 2021 after taking a huge hit during the pandemic,” the SBP said in a statement.

    “We’ve exerted a lot of effort into our hosting of the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and this is why it is with great sadness that we announced it is no longer going to happen.”
    The country was set to host two groups of the qualifiers— Group A where Gilas Pilipinas is bracketed, and Group C.

    Three of the countries in those brackets such as South Korea (Group A), Australia (Group C), and Hong Kong (Group C), however, are included in the government-imposed travel ban as the Philippines tries to contain the spread of the United Kingdom variant of the lethal virus.

    “The SBP offered to welcome not just Group A where we belong, but Group C as well because we were confident we’d be able to host a safe environment where world-class basketball players can showcase their skills without having to worry about anything else,” SBP president Al Panlilio said.

    “We’ve constantly communicated with our partners from the National Task Force Against COVID-19, and they have informed us that there would be no exemptions from the current travel restrictions announced by the Department of Foreign Affairs,” he added.

    Japan, which is also hosting another leg of the qualifiers, also begged off after it shut down its borders.

    The Japanese, along with Chinese-Taipei, Malaysia, and China, are in Group B.

    Doha offered to host the cancelled games in Group B but the venues for both the Group A and C qualifiers have yet to be confirmed.

    “We are working with FIBA to look for possible solutions to this situation. We look forward to the day that the SBP welcomes FIBA basketball to our shores again,” Panlilio said.

    “Our commitment to FIBA has never wavered as evidenced by our participation in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain even amidst the difficult circumstances.”

    Gilas was supposed to tangle with South Korea on Feb. 18, a reset of their initial match that was postponed in the second window, in Group A action.

    The Filipino dribblers collide with Indonesia on Feb. 20 and then South Korea on Feb. 22 anew.

    South Korea, which pulled off from the second window, was set to battle Indonesia on Feb. 19, and Thailand a day after.

    The Indonesians and the Thais clash for the last time on Feb. 22.

    Gilas fielded an all-amateur squad in the second window in Manama, Bahrain.

    Without a naturalized player, Gilas, with coach Jong Uichico calling the shots, still managed to stay unbeaten with a 3-0 record.