NO question, the hosting of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark was a rousing success.
Coaches and players who were all inside the bubble were vocal of their satisfaction with how the hosting was done in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
"We feel safe and it's very important in these special times, very unique time," said Japan coach Julio Lamas.
For one week, delegates from seven competing nations, on top of the operations crew mostly from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), were billeted at Quest Plus Hotel.
Trainings and games, meanwhile, were held at nearby Angeles University Foundation Gym with the strict health protocols agreed upon by Fiba and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases being thoroughly observed.
"The protocol is very strict in the hotel, from the transfers, to the court. And we are living only in these two places this week. We are living with this situation 24 hours today," said Lamas. "I think all is very good, is very effiecient, very serious, and very strict, and we feel safe."
The players also appreciated the stringent enforcement of the said protocols.
"I think the safety protocols and everything is done perfectly," said Chinese Taipei's Jonah Morrison.
Avi Koki Schafer of Japan agreed: "We will feel safe. Very strict protocols we have we always have our mask on, with our face guard. We feel protected."
The delegates also made special mention of the hospitality the hotel has provided them, making their week-long stay truly worthwhile.
"We're living [in a good hotel] and we're eating good food, too," said Morrison.
"The hotel has been fantastic. They've been great," shared Thailand coach Chris Daleo, who willingly shared how helpful the staff has been to him and his team.
"It's funny because I had cold showers in the first two days, and I called them up about it. I had no idea that I had hot water, and when I called them, the guys came right off and they turned the knob. They've been great."
That hospitality should also be considered as one of the reasons why China opted to stay for five more days here and engage in an exhibition game against Gilas Pilipinas on Wednesday, with them making the most of the amenities inside the bubble.
More than anything, though, it's the opportunity to play once again which these players truly relished.
"The facility in the Philippines especially here was great overall, so I think I had a great experience," said Korea's Lee Seoung Hyun.
Morrison shared, "On top of all of that, we also get to play good basketball against great competition around here."
Schafer is also happy to have this bubble experience in the country, saying, "We've had opportunities to play, and we couldn't play for a long time. It's been like a year and a half or so since we played international games, and I really want to thank the Philippines and Fiba. So I'm just glad to come over here."
And even Fiba took notice.
"On behalf of Fiba Asia Board Members, please accept our sincere appreciations for the excellent effort and support you and your staff provided in organizing and hosting Fiba Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers Window 3 postponed games of Groups and Group B," wrote Fiba Asia executive director Hagop Khajirian.
"Having organized such an impressive event, especially during these challenging times, involves enormous amounts of time and energy which contributed substantially in its success."
Regardless of their team's performances inside the bubble, all agreed of the fantastic hosting job the SBP had for this window.
And it's something that not even an untoward dispatch from a part of the Korean delegation can take that away from the hosts.
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