By Adrian Stewart Co
Gilas Pilipinas will formalize its entry into the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup when it plays in the third and final window of the qualification tournament in Doha, Qatar next month.
Doha has taken over the Philippines from hosting the Group A matches for the February window, as announced by the FIBA Regional Office Asia on Thursday evening.
Clark, Pampanga was supposed to be the host of the Group A matches for next month but the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas decided the cancel it due to country’s travel restrictions.
“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,” SBP president Al Panlilio said.
“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,” he added.
In the Qatar bubble, the national men’s basketball team will play the dangerous South Korea twice on February 18 and 22, while they will also face the Indonesians on February 20.
Gilas Pilipinas is currently on top of Group A with a perfect 3-0 slate following their twin wins over Thailand and a triumph over Indonesia. A win in the February window will formalize their entry to the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup.
“Our national team pool was saddened when they found out they won’t be playing in Clark, 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,” Panlilio said.
“We’re confident that our Gilas Pilipinas men’s team will be ready for the 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,” he added.
Aside from Group A games, also to be played in Qatar bubble were Group B matches between China, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia and Group E games between Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and host Qatar./ASC, WDJ