Doha, Qatar will take the place of the Philippines as host of all Group A matches in the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers next month.
FIBA made the announcement Thursday or two days after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas decided the cancel the country’s hosting of Groups A and C in Clark, Pampanga as the government imposed strict travel restrictions due to new COVID-19 variant.
Group A teams like Gilas Pilipinas, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand are the latest countries that will head to the Qatari capital for the third installment of the continental qualifiers which will be a bubble concept.
“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 SBP President Al 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,” Panlilio added.
Also slated to play in Doha are Group B teams China, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia and Group E squads Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and host Qatar.
There’s still no word as to where games of Australia, New Zealand, Guam and Hong Kong in Group C, which the Philippines was supposed to host, are going to be played.
Lebanon, Bahrain, India and Iraq are scheduled to wrap Group D assignments in Bahrain.
Like in the second window, FIBA will implement health protocols to assure the safety of all participants.
With the announcement, it will give Gilas something to look forward to after the SBP decision caused concerns as to whether the Qualifiers will push through.
Gilas is currently training under a bubble setup at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.