MANILA – The Philippines will no longer host the February window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers (ACQ) due to the new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom (UK).
“The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) regrets to inform everyone that the Philippines’ hosting of Groups A and C for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers this February is canceled due to the country’s travel ban,” the local governing body for basketball said in a statement on Tuesday.
As of January 15, the Philippines has placed travel bans on South Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia, three countries that have confirmed cases of the UK variant.
South Korea is grouped with Gilas Pilipinas Men in Group A, while Hong Kong and Australia are in Group C.
“We’ve constantly communicated with our partners from the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and they have informed us that there would be no exemptions from the current travel restrictions announced by the Department of Foreign Affairs,” SBP president Al Panlilio said.
It was a huge blow for the SBP, which according to the group “exerted a lot of effort into our hosting of the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.”
“This is why it is with great sadness that we announce it is no longer going to happen,” it added.
The February window for Groups A and C can still push through as scheduled from February 17 to 23, but it may mean they need to find a new country that can host them via a bubble.
“We are working with FIBA to look for possible solutions to this situation,” Panlilio added.
The Philippines is not the only country that has begged off from hosting the window as Japan also announced that it is giving up its hosting rights for the Group B bubble.Qatar, which will host the Group E bubble, will take over from Japan. (PNA)