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SBP calls off FIBA tourney
Al Panlilio
STAR/File

SBP calls off FIBA tourney

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With “great sadness,” the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) yesterday pulled the plug on the Philippines’ hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers originally set Feb. 18-22 in Clark, Pampanga.

The SBP cited the difficulties brought about by travel restrictions imposed by authorities on foreign arrivals as the primary reason for the cancellation of the Clark bubble.

“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,” SBP president Al Panlilio said.

The third window of the qualifiers will have Gilas, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand battling it out in Group A and Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Guam mixing it up in Group C.

Three of the participants – South Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia – are among the countries whose nationals are barred from entering the Philippines. The travel ban is up to Jan. 31 but with the emergence of the new strain of the virus, it is likely to be extended.

FIBA has yet to name the new venue for the Group A and C qualifying matches. Recently, the international body moved Group B’s games to Qatar after Tokyo, Japan begged off for a similar reason.

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

The SBP was awarded the hosting rights last December, getting a big boost from the successful two-month bubble staged by the PBA in Clark. The association has been hard at work on the preparations since then in coordination with the Clark Development Corp. and health authorities and with assistance from the PBA.

“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,” said Panlilio.

Despite the hosting withdrawal, the SBP brass reiterated the federation’s commitment to the international basketball community’s efforts to bounce back this year.

AL PANLILIO
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