FIBA tilt stymied by travel ban
SBP president Al Panlilio
STAR/ File

FIBA tilt stymied by travel ban

Olmin Leyba, John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is closely coordinating with authorities as it prepares for the hosting of next month’s FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers amid threat of the new COVID-19 variant and travel ban on countries with known cases.

“Entry travel restrictions” on foreign travelers coming from 32 countries – including FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers participants South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia – has been extended to Jan. 31 by the government.

It was supposed to end yesterday but the government decided to prolong it to two more weeks after local health officials reported the first case of a more contagious B117 SARS-CoV-2 variant.

If this drags on to February and gets further extended, it might put into uncertainties the qualifiers set for Feb. 18-22 in a bubble setup in Clark, Pampanga.

“We are working with the Inter-Agency Task Force to be properly guided,” SBP president Al Panlilio told The STAR yesterday.

At this point, though, the third and final window of the Asia Cup qualifiers will proceed as scheduled.

South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia are three of the seven foreign countries coming over for the bubble tournament.

The South Koreans are set for battle with host Gilas Pilipinas, Thailand and Indonesia in Group A while Hong Kong and Australia are up against New Zealand and Guam in Group C action.

The Philippines was chosen last December as one of the bubble hosts following the success of the PBA in holding a two-month tourney in Clark amid the pandemic.

The same facilities used by the PBA  – Quest Hotel for billeting and Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Sports Arena for the games – are tapped for the FIBA bubble meet.

While SBP tackles the logistics, billeting and protocols aspect of the hosting, it’s business as usual for Gilas Pilipinas in its own side of the preparations.

The Nationals started their training camp at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna this week with NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena and naturalization prospect Angelo Kouame leading a youth-laden first batch inside the bubble.

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