Gilas Pilipinas plays in Clark as Philippines hosts FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers

Gilas Pilipinas  FIBA Asia Cup host
The Gilas Pilipinas squad for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. Photo from FIBA.

The Gilas Pilipinas Men’s National Basketball Team will see action in Clark, Pampanga as the Philippines gets back its hosting duty for the third and final window of the 2021 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup Qualifiers.

The February window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers had been originally planned to take place in Clark, Pampanga before it was called off due to the travel restrictions amid the spread of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant.

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Qatar took over the hosting of Groups A, B, and E but was recently forced to cancel the remaining games, including three for Gilas Pilipinas which currently leads Group A with a 3-0 record. Other teams in the grouping are Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand. The Philippines’ team will play two games against the South Koreans and one game against Indonesia.

The FIBA statement released on February 12, 2021, announced that the three groups that were not able to play in Doha, Qatar will now be closing out their respective campaigns in the Philippines and Lebanon.

“We are happy to state that in these difficult circumstances that we are experiencing, and just within the 18 hours after the forced cancellation of the Qatar bubble, four national federations already expressed their support to Fiba by proposing to host one or more groups in their country to play the cancelled games,” wrote FIBA Executive Director for Asia Hagop Khajirian.

Two groups will be heading to the Philippines and one group in Lebanon with the schedule and logistics to be finalized in the next 10 days.

“However, we have already decided to have these games in the Philippines, where the SBP will host two groups, and in Lebanon, where LBF (Lebanese Basketball Federation) will host the third group,” Khajirian adds.

Al Panlilio, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President, said that the Philippines was the top choice for the rescheduled FIBA qualifying games as the initial planning was already done before its first cancellation in late January.

“We at the SBP did not wish for this to happen. We were perfectly fine with playing the role of competitor instead of host for the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. However, know all too well the risks involved in planning an international sporting event during these extraordinary times,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.

“The Qatar Basketball Federation was there to help out when we could not push through with our hosting and it’s just right for the SBP to be here for them and for FIBA as well,” Panlilio added.

SBP is now working with FIBA in the hopes of holding the third window of the Asia Cup Qualifying before the end of March.

NBA G-League’s Filipino player Kai Sotto came home in January to play for Gilas Pilipinas but is going back to the United States without playing for the national team amid the rescheduling of the games.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Gilas Pilipinas as it plays in Clark as the Philippines hosts the last window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers

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