THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) lauded the sacrifices made by the Gilas Pilipinas pool to train inside the Calamba bubble after FIBA officially decided not to push through with the final window of the Asia Cup qualifiers in Doha, Qatar.
In an official statement, SBP President Al S. Panlilio thanked members of the entire national team, from the players to the coaching staff, for the time and effort they put in the past one month to prepare for the Feb. 18 to 22 meet that was called off on Friday due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the Arab country.
The Gilas training pool started practicing at the Inspire Sports Academy last January 10 with the first batch of players led by Kiefer Ravena arriving at the Calamba bubble.
The team is set to break camp for the qualifier as it is about to leave for Qatar on Saturday evening when the unfortunate decision came.
“The SBP is saddened by the development especially because we know the kind of work that our Gilas Pilipinas men’s pool has done in Calamba,” said Panlilio.
“The players and coaching staff have all sacrificed so much in this process as they’ve been apart from their families to represent the Philippines against South Korea and Indonesia. We were looking forward to seeing them perform because we know that a lot of Filipinos draw inspiration from them as well during these difficult times.”
But the SBP understands the FIBA decision as it has to adhere the safety of the entire delegation going to Doha, which registered an increasing number of COVID-19 cases the past four weeks.
"Although we are saddened by the situation, we also understand the predicament faced by the Qatar Basketball Federation as they had no choice but to follow the mandate of their government," said Panlilio.
The SBP was also in the same predicament almost a month ago as it likewise had to call off its hosting of the third window of the qualifiers due to the current travel restrictions imposed by the Philippine government.
The decision led FIBA to transfer the group hosting from the Clark bubble in Pampanga to Qatar,
"These are extraordinary times and we can only do our best given the hand we are dealt. We thank our Qatari friends for their willingness to host our group given the short notice, and we are hoping that the rise of COVID-19 cases in their country ceases soon," added Panlilio.
FIBA is now carefully studying all the available alternatives for having the game in the near future.
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