The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has cancelled the third and final window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers due to travel restrictions.
The games were supposed to take place in Clark, Pampanga from February 18 to 23.
“The SBP wanted nothing else than to be one with the international basketball community as it attempts to bounce back in 2021 after taking a huge hit during the pandemic. Our commitment to FIBA has never wavered as evidenced by our participation in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain even amidst the difficult circumstances,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.
“The SBP offered to welcome not just Group A where we belong, but Group C as well because we were confident we’d be able to host a safe environment where world-class basketball players can showcase their skill without having to worry about anything else. We’ve exerted a lot of effort into our hosting of the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and this is why it is with great sadness that we announce it is no longer going to happen,” he added.
SBP Special Assistant to the President Ryan Gregorio, meanwhile, disclosed that the third window will likely push through in a different location but the timetable is still uncertain.
The new variant of COVID-19, which is said to be more potent than the original one, has forced the national government to impose a travel ban on 33 countries – three of which are included in the qualifiers – Korea, Australia and Hong Kong.
“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,” explained Panlilio.
“We are working with FIBA to look for possible solutions to this situation. We look forward to the day that the SBP welcomes FIBA basketball to our shores again.”