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SBP 'glad to have met' FIBA's bubble hosting criteria says Panlilio

The SBP is looking to emulate the PBA bubble in holding the FIBA ACQ February window hosting. PBA Images (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas expressed its gratitude to FIBA for giving them the nod to host the next FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers window on Feb. 18-22, 2021.

"The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is honored and humbled to be chosen as one of the hosts of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers this coming February," SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement on Friday, hours after FIBA announced that his agency has been tasked to host one of the bubbles.

[Related Story: PH chosen as FIBA ACQ host]

The Philippine bubble of the third ACQ window is expected to be patterned to that of the recently concluded PBA season.

The teams will travel back and forth from the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in the said city's downtown to their designated hotel residence inside the Clark Economic Zone.

The PBA bubble, however, met some challenges along the way as a referee and a Blackwater player were initially listed as suspected COVID-19 cases but were later cleared after confirming that they got false positives.

The suspected cases, however, led to a surprise Halloween break and an ensuing major schedule tweak that saw teams playing on back-to-back days and even in the morning.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said prior to the start of the league bubble that FIBA would monitor their bubble, and following the end of the season, FIBA seemed to be impressed by how the bubble went that they gave the SBP the go signal to host the ACQ bubble.

"We are thankful for FIBA's trust in our capacity to host not just a successful tournament but, more importantly, a safe one," Panlilio further said. "We're glad to have met their health standards."

The concurrent Meralco team governor then thanked the PBA "for sharing with us their expertise after successfully hosting the PBA bubble."

"We're looking forward to working hand-in-hand with them, including involved Philippine government agencies and other basketball stakeholders in this unique opportunity," Panlilio continued.

The SBP will host the Angeles bubble for two groups, namely Group A, where host team Gilas Pilipinas Men, Southeast Asian neighbors Indonesia and Thailand, and rival South Korea are in, and Group C, where Australia is a part of.

"The SBP is excited to show them the same warmth of Filipino hospitality even under these difficult circumstances," Panlilio assured.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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