Gilas training on track as FIBA relocates third window to Doha

Published January 29, 2021, 5:11 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Photo from Inspire Sports Academy

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio expressed confidence that Gilas Pilipinas will still give its best even after the cancelation of the country’s hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers third window next month.

According to Panlilio, now that FIBA has identified Qatar as the new venue for the qualifying tournament, he said the national team is expected to go out in full force to secure a FIBA Asia Cup slot.

The country was supposed to host the third window in a bubble tournament setup on February 18 to 22 in Clark, Pampanga but was forced to call it off after the government’s travel ban on countries affected by the new strain of the coronavirus.

“We’re confident that our Gilas Pilipinas men’s team will be ready for competition come February as the SBP continues to work with the IATF to seek their guidance about the protocols necessary for our team to travel to and from Doha,” said Panlilio.

“Our national team pool was saddened when they found out they won’t be playing (here in the country).”

“But they did not slow down with their preparations. Now with the pool nearing completion and a definite location for their games, the SBP is confident that they will step it up into another gear,” he said.

The local basketball federation received communication from FIBA that the remaining matches for Group A will now be played in Doha as announced by FIBA Executive Director for Asia Hagop Khajirian.

Also in Group A with the Philippines are South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand.

“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,” Panlilio said.

“We would have loved to host Groups A and C (with Australia, New Zealand, Guam and Hong Kong) but things beyond our control made it necessary to adjust our plans and we thank everyone for their flexibility.”

Panlilio said the games will be played within the same timeframe, and the SBP is communicating with the Qatar Basketball Federation for the final schedule as there might be necessary adjustments since it is now hosting 12 teams from the original four.

From the original Group E, which includes Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran, Qatar’s also hosting – in an announcement last January 22 – Group B with China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Malaysia after Tokyo’s hosting was cancelled due to restrictions imposed by the Japanese authorities.