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Senegal begs off from Belgrade OQT due to COVID-19 concerns

Four Senegalese players were tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the national team to beg off from the FIBA OQT. FIBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Although indirectly, Gilas Pilipinas will only have to think about a fewer opponents in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.

This as one of the five other participating teams in the tournament has backed out due to COVID-19 related concerns.

FIBA confirmed early Tuesday (Philippine Time) that Senegal would not be able to travel to the Serbian capital after the team was stuck in Berlin following confirmed COVID-19 cases among some players.

"FIBA was informed by the National Federation of Senegal about COVID-19 related disruptions to their preparations in Germany. Despite continuous effort from FIBA and the German Basketball Federation to support the Senegalese delegation, the team will not be able to travel to Belgrade and take part in the OQT," FIBA said in a statement.

In a letter sent to FIBA, the Senegalese Basketball Federation confirmed that four of its national team players were tested positive for COVID-19.

"Following the confirmation of the 4 cases of COVID-19 among the members of the men's national team, the Senegalese Basketball Federation informs that the current health protocols in place in the Federal Republic of Germany does not provide for any possibility of derogation from the containment measure imposed on people who have been in contact with confirmed cases carrying COVID-19," the letter reads.

Once the four players recover, Senegal will immediately depart for Dakar.

Meanwhile, the development means the other teams in Group B, Italy and Puerto Rico, will automatically qualify for the semifinals of the OQT.

Both teams will face off on Thursday night to determine which will take the top seed in the said group.

Meanwhile, the matches in Group A will continue on as scheduled.

Dominican Republic will face host country Serbia early Wednesday (Philippine Time), Serbia will then face Gilas early Thursday (Philippine Time), and Gilas battles Dominican Republic early Friday (Philippine Time).

The top two teams in Group A will join Italy and Puerto Rico in the crossover semifinals with the winners slugging it out for one of the four remaining spots in the Tokyo Olympic men's basketball event.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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