By Jonas Terrado
Gilas Pilipinas is in danger of seeing the postponement of its Feb. 23 away match against Indonesia in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
A report by Kompas, one of Indonesia’s main newspapers, said Indonesia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports has instructed the Indonesian Basketball Association (PERSABI) to postpone not only the match against Gilas but also the Feb. 20 meeting opposite South Korea.
Both games were slated to be played at the Mahaka Arena, located in the Northern Jakarta district of Kelapa Gading.
Kompas also said that the ministry, known as KEMENPORA, wanted to make necessary precautions against the spread of virus, especially after the Philippines and South Korea have already declared positive cases.
Indonesia has yet to confirm a case against the virus, though authorities have quarantined a 19-year-old student after showing symptoms of the COVID-19.
Team manager Gabby Cui has yet to comment as of posting time, though he earlier said that Gilas was scheduled to leave for the Indonesian capital on Friday.
FIBA had earlier postponed Gilas’ home match against Thailand on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
No date has been set for the said game.
The possible delay of the Indonesia match could put Gilas’ preparation for the Qualifiers on a standstill.
Coach Mark Dickel said after Saturday’s practice at the Meralco Gym that the team will begin the process of finalizing the 15 players from the pool that could be used for the Indonesia duel.
Dickel added that the coaching staff composed of Gilas program director Tab Baldwin, Sandy Arespacochaga, Alex Compton and Topex Robinson is expected to a make decision within 48 hours.
“I’m sure we’ll go back and forth with the coaches and probably can put together on who the 15 are, and then start talking about combinations and who we should start and what’s going on,” said Dickel.
“I really tried to put up an open mind about all the players that are here, and then let the team kinda pick itself based on their performance. I didn’t want to come here with any pre-conceived ideas coz then you don’t give the guys a chance to force their way in.
“So, that’s kinda been what it is. We haven’t really thought too much about who’s gonna make the 15 or the 12. It’s just been more about being more impressed with how the players have played and how hard they have competed and stuff like that. It’s been really good,” he added.