Qatar shuts window; Kai flies out to rejoin Ignite
Gilas Pilipinas is suddenly in a bind after Friday’s stunning cancellation of the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha, Qatar.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said it has received correspondence from Fiba’s executive director for Asia, Hagop Khajirian, saying that Qatar’s government has ordered the cancellation of events there due to the uptick of coronavirus cases.
Fiba’s decision comes on the eve of the Nationals’ departure for the tournament, where they are scheduled to play South Korea and Indonesia beginning Feb. 18.
SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement that he is “saddened with the development,” adding that “the players and coaching staff have all sacrificed so much in this process as they’ve been apart from their families to represent the Philippines.”
Panlilio said Fiba will be studying all available alternatives to have those games played in the near future.
The cancellation also prevented Gilas from playing an official game for the first time with Kai Sotto, whom the SBP had flying back from the United States earlier this month after moving heaven and earth to have the 7-foot-3 wunderkind arrive.
With no more tournament to play in at the allotted time he got from his G League team Ignite, Sotto will obviously be trying to fly back to the United States as soon as he can so he can quarantine and enter the tournament’s bubble in Orlando, Florida.
This has been the second cancellation of a host country following the bitter decision of the SBP to forego hosting on Jan. 26 because of travel ban restrictions that would have made things very complicated for five total countries coming over to play in two groups.
“Although we are saddened by the situation, we also understand the predicament faced by the Qatar Basketball Federation as they had no choice but to follow the mandate of their government,” Panlilio said.
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