MANILA, Philippines — Smart Gilas Pilipinas will have one less powerhouse to worry about in the Fiba Asia Championship as internal squabbles forced Lebanon out of this year’s competitions.
But national team head coach Chot Reyes said in a tweet that they were not too worried by the development, with less than a month to go before the tournament hosted by the Philippines.
“Not too worried about Lebanon’s suspension [because] we’re too focused on ourselves first,” said Reyes on Saturday (Manila time).
Smart Gilas Pilipinas is in Napier, New Zealand for a 10-day training camp.
The Lebanese — perennial contenders in Asia — were supposed to be bracketed with Japan, Hong Kong, and Qatar in group B in the preliminary round scheduled in August.
Lebanon was slapped with an indefinite suspension by Fiba — the sports’ world governing body — after its basketball federation failed to resolve their internal clash on Friday.
Iraq, which wound up fourth and last in the West Asian eliminations last February, takes the place of Lebanon in the tournament which dangles three slots to the Fiba Worlds.
“Iraq is a tall, tough team we know very little of,” Reyes said of the new competition.
The suspension was reported by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star in its July 13 issue.