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Asia Cup qualifiers moved to Doha

From Clark to Doha.

Gilas Pilipinas will now have to travel to Qatar in a bid to qualify for the coming FIBA Asia Cup.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas received an official communication from FIBA that remaining games in Group A will now be played in Doha along with those in Group B and Group E.

Now with everything certain, the national team focuses even more while training in a bubble inside the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

“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 Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to seek its guidance about the protocols necessary for our team to travel to and from Doha,” SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement shortly after attending the PBA Board of Governors meeting.

“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,” added Panlilio, who represents Meralco in the PBA Board. “Now with the pool nearing completion and a definite location for their games, the SBP is confident that they will step up into another gear.”

Strict travel restrictions in the country due to Covid-19 forced the SBP to cancel its supposed hosting of Group A and Group C games in Clark, Pampanga from Feb. 18 to 21.

Japan was also supposed to host Group B, but likewise backed out after closing its boarders to all new foreign arrivals due to the virus.

The Qatar Basketball Federation offered to host the Group B games, and later on, agreed to add the Group A matches as well.

“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 in Clark, but things beyond our control made it necessary to adjust our plans, and we thank everyone for their flexibility. The games will be played within the same timeframe, but we’ll be communicating with the Qatar Basketball Federation for the final schedule as there might be necessary adjustments since they are now hosting 12 teams from the original four.”*PBA.PH

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