The Philippines will no longer serve as one of the hosts for the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers due to travel restrictions in the country.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced the news on Tuesday, January 26 – less than a month before the third window runs from February 18 to 21.
“[W]e were confident we’d be able to host a safe environment where world-class basketball players can showcase their skill without having to worry about anything else,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.
“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 announce it is no longer going to happen.”
Teams from Group A and Group C were supposed to fly to the country and play in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga.
According to the SBP, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said there would be no exemptions for the current travel restrictions imposed by the government.
Japan – slated to host Group B – also begged off, with Qatar offering to stage the games in Doha.
“We are working with FIBA to look for possible solutions to this situation,” Panlilio said. “We look forward to the day that the SBP welcomes FIBA basketball to our shores again.”
Gilas Pilipinas, which leads Group A with a 3-0 record, needs to win at least 1 of its last 3 games to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup. – Rappler.com