FIBA ASIA CUP FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines—Qatar’s hosting of the February window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup will not push through after the gulf state’s government canceled all events due to the surge of COVID-19 cases.
Al Panlilio, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President, said in a statement that they are “saddened” with the news as Gilas Pilipinas have trained non-stop since January 10 preparing for the window.
“The SBP is saddened by the development especially because we know the kind of work that our Gilas Pilipinas Men’s pool has done in Calamba,” said Panlilio Friday. “The players and coaching staff have all sacrificed so much in the process as they’ve been apart from their families to represent the Philippines against South Korea and Indonesia.”
“We are looking forward to seeing them perform because we know a lot of Filipinos draw inspiration from them as well during these difficult times.”
Thank you to our Qatari friends for their willingness to host our group given the short notice. 💯#SBP #ParaSaBayan #LabanPilipinas 🇵🇭 pic.twitter.com/sNJpmZR3hy
— SBP (@officialSBPinc) February 12, 2021
After the cancellation of the qualifiers in the Philippines due to the travel ban, Qatar took up the hosting duties for groups A—where Gilas Pilipinas belongs—B, and E of the qualifiers.
Qatar had managed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in December, limiting daily new cases to less than 300.
But cases began to pile up anew last month, prompting Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health to order the cancelation of events that would be held in the country with cases now in the upwards of 400 daily since February 4.
Panlilio and the SBP also received a letter from Fiba Executive Director-Asia Hagop Khajirian informing the teams from Groups A, B, and E of Qatar’s predicament.
“Although we are saddened by the situation, we also understand the predicament faced by the Qatar Basketball Federation as they had no choice but to follow the mandate of their government,” said Panlilio.
“These are extraordinary times and we can only do our best given the hand we are dealt. We thank our Qatari friends for their willingness to host our group given the short notice and we are hoping that the rise of COVID-19 cases in their country ceases soon.”
Gilas, which was supposed to fly to Doha on Saturday, had been inside the training bubble at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba since January to prepare for the February window.
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