The travel ban of the national government on select countries has forced the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to cancel the staging of the FIBA Asia Cup next month in Clark, Pampanga.
The country was supposed to host the qualifiers for Group A – where it belongs – and C on February 18 to 22 in a ‘bubble’ tournament setup.
“We were confident we’d be able to host a safe environment where world-class basketball players can showcase their skill without having to worry about anything else,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.
“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.”
Panlilio said that the SBP has been in constant communication with government officials, particularly from the National Task Force against COVID-19. But due to the new strain of the virus, the Department of Foreign Affairs has intensified its restrictions on travelers from other countries affected by the outbreak.
“They have informed us that there would be no exemptions from the current travel restrictions,” Panlilio said.
FIBA, according to SBP Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Ryan Gregorio, is looking at different venues to stage the qualifiers for Groups A and C, but for now, there is no venue at the moment.
As for Gilas Pilipinas, which is currently training inside the bubble at Inspire in Calamba, Laguna, Gregorio said that practices will continue under project director Tab Baldwin.
“That is the plan (for them to play in the qualifiers even outside of the country). They will continue to practice,” he said.