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Asia Cup qualifiers February window set in clark

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - December 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas will play the third and last window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on home ground as Clark was chosen as “bubble” venue for the February 2021 games.

The Group A-leading Filipinos will slug it out with groupmates South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia from Feb. 22-28 to dispute the two tickets to the main tournament of the Continental cagefest next year.

Also set for battle in Clark, which recently hosted the successful PBA Philippine Cup bubble, are Group C squads Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and Hong Kong.

“We pitched for the hosting and we are elated that FIBA Asia has shown us the trust and confidence by giving it to us,” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio told The STAR.

“In partnership with the government and Clark, we will ensure a safe environment for all the countries competing in the February 2021 windows,” he added.

The FIBA Asia bubble will generally follow the template of the PBA Clark bubble. For over two months, the pro league wrapped the teams in a bubble extending from their billeting at Quest Hotel to the venue, the AUF Sports Arena in nearby Angeles.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said the pro league is more than ready to assist the SBP and FIBA in staging this bubble.

“We’ll help them; we’ll share all our experiences in holding a bubble,” said Marcial, who vouched for the capability of Clark in hosting such a setup.

He said the PBA’s assistance extends to the composition of the Gilas squad.

Gilas, which won its first three games in the qualifiers, intends to make the most of the situation to advance.

“We do not have to travel far, that would be to our advantage,” said coach Jong Uichico, who steered an all-cadet Gilas to two routs over Thailand in the previous bubble window in Bahrain last month.

Meanwhile, the nearby New Clark City sports complex has been cited as the 2019 Sports Tourism Venue of the Year at the fourth Philippine Sports Tourism Awards. – Joey Villar, Ding Cervantes

GILAS PILIPINAS
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