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    With PBA bubble as model, SBP offers to host Fiba qualifiers in February

    Nov 19, 2020
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has offered to host the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in February next year.

    SBP president Al Panlilio bared that the federation has expressed to Fiba its intentions to serve as the host city for the planned bubble in the final leg of the qualifying games.

    "We've offered Fiba to host the next window in February. We're starting our talks with (Deputy Chief Implementer against COVID-19) Sec. Vince Dizon in making that happen," he said on Thursday.

    The SBP is hopeful in securing the hosting rights for the Group A matches, which has the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia, after Fiba scrapped its home-and-away format in favor of bubble qualifiers amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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    Panlilio added that if Fiba so desires, the Philippines is also willing to host another group for their qualifying games.

    "We're willing to host our bubble but if Fiba requires, since there are a lot of teams that have not been able to find a host, we can host two groups for February, so that's six to eight teams," he said.

    Much of SBP's confidence comes from the staging of the PBA bubble in Clark, with Panlilio hoping that the Philippines can pull off the same level of success in an international competition.

    "Hats off to Commissioner Willie (Marcial), they did a good job in the PBA showcasing what we can do. It's a model that we can offer to Fiba as one of the areas they can consider for the next bubble hosting in February," he said.

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      "I think Fiba has welcomed that offer. We just have to start discussions with them with the nitty gritty of arrangements and the things that need to happen. I'm sure we'll be able to arrive somthing that will not only be good for us and for Fiba as well."

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      One of the key points Panlilio raised for that hosting to happen will be the issue on the health protocols to be enforced, with the SBP looking to align the guidelines set by the national government, and observed in the PBA's Clark bubble, with the health protocols approved by Fiba.

      "We have to work with them and there will be some alignment. I'm sure we won't have a problem aligning with those health protocols, but for sure, that has to happen," said Panlilio.

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        SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan seconded the proposal, as he sees the potential hosting of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers as a positive statement in the middle of these trying times.

        "It's similar to what the NBA has taken by way of attitude, and the PBA as well to the credit of the league and Commissioner Marcial, and Fiba has taken note of what we have done here," he said.

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        "We want to return as much as possible to as near normal times as we can. Basketball is huge and the extent that we can do it both here and internationally, we'd like to suggest that we're not gonna be imprisoned by this virus and we'll stand up to it."

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        PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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