SBP expects Gilas to step into ‘another gear’ as Doha window looms
MANILA, Philippines—Instead of playing at home, Gilas Pilipinas will travel to Doha, Qatar for the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers next month.
Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio said the team was saddened by the cancellation, but continued on with their preparation for the continental tournament.
“Our national team pool was saddened when they found out they won’t be playing in Clark. But they did not slow down with their preparations,” said Panlilio, as per PBA’s official website.
“Now with the pool nearing completion and a definite location for their games, the SBP is confident that they will step up into another gear.”
With Gilas now required to travel anew, Panlilio said that they will continue to work with the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases in regards to their flights and safety protocols.
This won’t be the first time that the national team would be traveling to the Middle East for the qualifying tournament as Gilas already played in the Manama Bubble in Bahrain during the November window, a fruitful stint where the Filipinos won their two games against Thailand.
The Philippines was chosen as the host for Groups A and C for the February window but that was scrapped due to the national government’s new travel restrictions.
Japan, which was supposed to house Group B, was another host country that backed out of its hosting duties with the country closing borders to all new foreign arrivals due to the spread of the UK variant.
Qatar, thus, will now host Groups A, B, and E.
“We are thankful to FIBA and the Qatar Basketball Federation for all their efforts to make sure that the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers for Group A will push through,” said Panlilio.
“We would have loved to host Groups A and C in Clark, but things beyond our control made it necessary to adjust our plans, and we thank everyone for their flexibility. The games will be played within the same timeframe, but we’ll be communicating with the Qatar Basketball Federation for the final schedule as there might be necessary adjustments since they are now hosting 12 teams from the original four.”
The Philippines holds the top spot in Group A with a 3-0 record and will need just one more win to advance to the Asia Cup in Indonesia.
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