International hoopfest back on home soil
Al Panlilio

International hoopfest back on home soil

Christina Mendez, Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — International basketball returns to Philippine soil next month with the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers staging in Clark, Pampanga finally getting government approval.

Through Resolution 114, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) cleared the way for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to host the tournament from June 16-20 in a bubble setting.

Gilas Pilipinas, currently training in a bubble camp in Calamba, Laguna, will headline the participants in the twice-delayed event. The SBP was originally set to hold it last February but was forced to give it up due to travel restrictions at that time. Qatar took over but eventually withdrew as well, prompting the SBP to re-offer the country’s services.

“The SBP knows that Filipino basketball fans have waited a long time for this and we’re just as excited as they are to have international basketball in our country again,” SBP president Al Panlilio said.

This will actually be the first international hoopfest in the Philippines since the basketball competitions of the Manila Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

Gilas played its first three assignments in the Asia Cup qualifiers in pandemic-hit 2020 on the road, beating Indonesia in Jakarta then sweeping Thailand in two games in the Bahrain bubble.

South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia will join Gilas in Group A action in Clark while Japan, China and Chinese Taipei will play in Group B. Hong Kong and Guam will see action in Group C.

Panlilio assured participants of a safe environment for the third and final window of the qualifiers for the continental showpiece.

“The SBP has been working with FIBA, government agencies, and other partners to ensure a successful and, more importantly, a safe bubble,” said Panlilio, who expressed his gratitude to Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez and National Task Force Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon for their assistance.

“We’re looking forward to hosting our friends from Groups A, B and C and showing them the kind of hospitality that the Philippines is known for,” he added.

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