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SBP chief Panlilio 'saddened' by ACQ Doha bubble cancellation

Although saddened, SBP chief Al Panlilio said that the cancellation of the Doha bubble is understandable. FIBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio confirmed on Friday that Qatar has indeed begged off from hosting a bubble in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

And as anticipated, it was a bad news for him.

"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," Panlilio said upon receiving a letter from FIBA Asia executive director Hagop Khajirian announcing the cancellation of the bubble.

Panlilio added that Gilas Pilipinas Men have been preparing so much for the window even if the SBP itself had to let go of its hosting rights due to the Philippines' fight to contain COVID-19, especially the United Kingdom variant.

"The players and coaching staff have all sacrificed so much in this process as they've been apart from their families to represent the Philippines against South Korea and Indonesia. We were looking forward to seeing them perform because we know that a lot of Filipinos draw inspiration from them as well during these difficult times," Panlilio further said.

In spite of this, he said that he understands the situation in Doha especially that the COVID-19 cases are rising there.

"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," Panlilio added.

He then thanked the QBF for stepping in after his agency had to give up its own bubble hosting.

“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,” Panlilio concluded.

With the Doha hosting now cancelled, it is now possible that the third window schedule will be moved to a later date, although this may not affect the schedule of the FIBA Asia Cup itself in August.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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