GILAS Pilipinas management allayed fears that the team’s travel documents for Lebanon are yet in order, saying the Fiba Asia Cup squad is only waiting for the formality of a visa that will allow them entry to the Middle Eastern country.
Team manager Butch Antonio did admit that they have yet to get hold of their respective Lebanese visas, although he’s in constant communication with a Fiba Asia official who confirmed that the documents have already been processed.
“The visas are still not with us,” Antonio said after practice on Thursday. “As a matter of fact, ka-Whatsapp ko yung taga-Fiba Asia, saying that we're leaving Saturday and wala pa rin, although we have filed this long, long, long ago. They say it’s okay, I just don't have the actual one.”
“Ako naman always the segurista, until it’s with me … I am concerned na wala pa,” he added. “I told Lebanon and also our office to coordinate kasi kailangan ko yung hard copy eh. Its gonma be a piece of paper, hindi naman yung naka-stamp sa passport. Kaya pwede yung sinasabi nila na it's okay already, it’s just a matter of us receiving it and printing it out.”
Antonio said the Philippine delegation sought the help of the Lebanese basketball federation to expedite the process of their visa application that normally takes two months to process.
“Actually ganun naman talaga,” Antonio said. “Just for the information of everybody, in any Fiba tournament, its also the obligation of the host to assist any team that has a difficulty securing visas. Obligation yun. Hindi dapat effort yun [ng teams]. It’s part of the hosting.”
“Okay naman yung Lebanon, they've been very cooperative,” he added. “Ako lang, I'm just restless until I get hold of those copies.”
Gilas takes the day off on Friday, before holding its last practice on Saturday morning at the Moro Lorenzo Center inside the Ateneo campus in Katipunan.
The team leaves for Lebanon early Sunday morning.