THE tense political situation in the Middle East will dictate Team Pilipinas' schedule of tune-up games before it plays Qatar in the Fiba Basketball World Cup qualifiers.
National coach Yeng Guiao said the team plans to leave early for its February 21 match at Qatar and another against Kazakhstan on February 24, hoping to play tune-up games against Mideast sides along the way.
There’s one problem. Most of the nations in the Gulf area have a dispute with Qatar.
“Ang problema namin, ‘yung Qatar, may political issues against other Middle East countries. So kung nasa UAE or nasa ibang country ka, if we stay there and play there, we might need to go back to Hong Kong again to arrive at Qatar,” Guiao said.
“Kailangan namin mamili ng isang lugar na we can fly straight from that place to Qatar para hindi naman mabigat sa katawan ‘yung biyahe,” Guiao said.
One option Guiao is looking at is playing club teams in Israel.
“Meron pa kaming konting paplantsahin sa aspeto na ‘yun. We are not yet sure who we will play but possibility na siguro ‘yung club teams sa Israel. Malalakas ‘yun. I’m not sure ang political relation ng Israel sa Qatar pero that was also one of the things that was brought up sa discussion,” said Guiao.
Before leaving for the two World Cup qualifying matches, Guiao hopes Team Pilipinas could still log tune-up games in the country.
“Off the top of my head, naiisip ko na medyo puwedeng laruin is ‘yung Alab, kung available sila. Kung PBA team, baka malabo. Mas maganda kung may import kasi nasi-simulate ‘yung mga malalaking kalaban natin doon sa Qatar and Kazakhstan,” said Guiao.