SBP cancels PH hosting of Fiba window due to travel ban
MANILA, Philippines — The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has canceled the Philippines’ staging of the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers in February due to the country’s travel ban brought about by the new COVID-19 variant.
The Philippines was originally set to host Groups A and C of the third and final window of the qualifiers from Feb. 18-24 in Clark, Pampanga.
“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. 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,” said SBP president Al Panlilio in a statement Tuesday.
“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.”
The Philippine government extended its travel restrictions to more than 30 countries until Jan. 31 to limit the spread of the new COVID-19 variant which was first recorded in the United Kingdom and believed to be more virulent.
There have been close to 40 infections of the new virus variant in the Philippines.
“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.”
Gilas Pilipinas, which leads Group A at 3-0, was slated to play rival South Korea twice and Indonesia.
The national training pool started its training camp in a bubble in Calamba, Laguna earlier this month.
According to the SBP, Japan has also begged off in hosting Group B play in Tokyo with Qatar offering to stage the games in Doha instead.
“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.”
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