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Gilas continues grind in training bubble

Life goes on at the Gilas Pilipinas training camp at the Inspire Sports Academy.

Despite the country cancelling its hosting of the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, the national team is not breaking camp inside the Calamba bubble as it needs to keep in game shape should a new host country gets to stage the Feb. 18 to 21 meet.

So even after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) officially announced with regret on Tuesday that the country’s hosting of the qualifier is not pushing through, the 19-man training pool went on with its business inside the bubble.

“We will continue training until we get advice from FIBA,” head coach Jong Uichico said.

“We will not break camp. We are continuing to practice,” Ryan Gregorio, special assistant to SBP President Al Panlilio and alternate governor of Meralco in the PBA, said.

At the moment, Gilas still has no idea on when and where the cancelled games at Clark in Pampanga would be transferred.

But there’s no reason for the team to be idle at this point.

“We have to keep going to be ready when FIBA finds a host for the third window,” Panlilio, also Meralco governor to the PBA board, said.

Six PBA players, four PBA special draftees, and nine cadets are included in the training pool that will also have NBA prospect Kai Sotto joining them later on.

The pro players include Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Justine Chua, CJ Perez, Kiefer Ravena, and Raul Soyud, while the special Gilas draftees are Mike and Matt Nieto, Isaac Go, and Rey Suerte.

The cadets roster are composed of Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, draft applicants William Navarro and Calvin Oftana, Dave Ildefonso, Javi Gomez de Liaño, Juan Gomez de Liaño, Kemark Carino, and prospective naturalized player Ange Kouame, PBA.PH reported.

The SBP said the Philippines will no longer host the February window of the ACQ due to the new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

As of Jan. 15, the Philippines has placed travel bans involving several countries, like South Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia.

South Korea is grouped with Gilas Pilipinas Men in Group A, while Hong Kong and Australia are in Group C.

“We’ve constantly communicated with our partners from the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and they have informed us that there would be no exemptions from the current travel restrictions announced by the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Panlilio said.

It was a huge blow for the SBP, which according to the group “exerted a lot of effort into our hosting of the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.”

The February window for Groups A and C can still push through as scheduled from Feb. 17 to 23, but it may mean they need to find a new country that can host them via a bubble.

“We are working with FIBA to look for possible solutions to this situation,” Panlilio added.

The Philippines is not the only country that has begged off from hosting the window as Japan also announced that it is giving up its hosting rights for the Group B bubble. Qatar, which will host the Group E bubble, will take over from Japan.*PNA

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