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SBP calls off FIBA ACQ PH hosting

Gilas Pilipinas Men were supposed to host the February window of the FIBA ACQ. FIBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Philippine hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers February window has just been canceled.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas confirmed on Tuesday that it will no longer hold the ACQ window in Angeles due to COVID-19 complications.

"The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas regrets to inform everyone that the Philippines’ hosting of Groups A and C for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers this February is cancelled due to the country’s travel ban," the governing body said in a statement.

As of Jan. 15, travel bans were placed on South Korea, which is grouped together with Gilas Pilipinas Men in Group A, Hong Kong, and Australia, whose national teams are parts of Group C, due to the new COVID-19 United Kingdom strain.

South Korea had begged off from playing in the second window of the FIBA ACQ last November due to the pandemic, but FIBA gave the team a two-point deduction as a penalty.

“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,” SBP president Al 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."

"This is why it is with great sadness that we announce it is no longer going to happen," the SBP added.

The February window for Groups A and C can still push through as scheduled from Feb. 17-23, 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 further said.

The Philippines is not the only country that 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.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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