Report: Philippines cancels hosting of FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers
MANILA, Philippines — In the coronavirus pandemic's latest blow to Philippine sports, the country's hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers this February will be scrapped, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced Tuesday.
First reported by Tiebreaker Times, the SBP said that the cancellation of the country's hosting of Groups A and C in Clark was due to the travel bans on 33 countries prompted by the emergence of the new coronavirus variant, which is feared by experts to be far more transmissible than the original strain.
“The SBP wanted nothing else than to be one with the international basketball community as it attempts to bounce back in 2021 after taking a huge hit during the pandemic,” SBP President Al Panlilio was quoted in reports as saying.
"Our commitment to FIBA has never wavered as evidenced by our participation in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain even amidst the difficult circumstances," he added.
This comes just days after the SBP said on the Power & Play with Noli Eala radio show that the "bubble" training for the Philippine national men's basketball team was in full swing.
According to the SBP, Japan also had to cancel its hosting of the tournament's Group B, with the Qatar Basketball Federation volunteering to do so in their place.
It is yet unclear which country will take up the hosting of the two groups in the wake of the cancellation, though SBP Special Assistant to the President Ryan Gregorio confirmed in a report by ESPN that the third window will indeed continue overseas.
"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," Panlilio also said.
"We are working with FIBA to look for possible solutions to this situation. We look forward to the day that the SBP welcomes FIBA basketball to our shores again."