Philippines steps in anew to host final window of Asia Cup Qualifiers

The FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers will make a stop in Clark, Pampanga after all.

This was finalized with a letter from FIBA Executive Director-Asia Hagop Khajirian where it was said that the three groups that were not able to play in Doha, Qatar will now be closing out their respective campaigns in the Philippines and Lebanon.

Khajirian noted that four national federations immediately expressed to support FIBA and host one or more groups a mere 18 hours after the last-minute cancellation in Qatar. It was decided that two groups will be playing in the Philippines and one group in Lebanon with the schedule and logistics to be finalized in the next 10 days.

“We at the SBP did not wish for this to happen. We were perfectly fine with playing the role of competitor instead of host for the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. However, know all too well the risks involved in planning an international sporting event during these extraordinary times,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.

“The Qatar Basketball Federation was there to help out when we could not push through with our hosting and it’s just right for the SBP to be here for them and for FIBA as well.”

Qatar was only supposed to host Group E, where they belong with Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran, this February. They stepped up to host Group B with Chinese Taipei, Japan, Malaysia, and China when Tokyo became an unviable option.

Group A, featuring the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea, also landed in Doha when the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs imposed travel restrictions that made hosting the Clark Bubble impossible.

However, the Philippine Government has since eased up their restrictions allowing the SBP to step in and reclaim its hosting duties.

“What we have to remember during these difficult times that the entire international basketball community is part of one team,” said Panlilio. “We must do our best to help each other as much as we can. We know that our great fans from all over Asia draw a lot of inspiration from their respective national teams and this is why hosting these games holds a lot of value even during a pandemic.”

The SBP turned out as the top choice for FIBA as the initial planning was already done before the unfortunate cancellation in late January.

“SBP Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan was really adamant about volunteering once again to host and it was under his leadership that led us to make the necessary moves to get the ball rolling again,” Panlilio closed.