With vaccines already making their way around the world, and countries beginning their vaccination programs as early as they could, the ideal picture is that somehow the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be over. But a closer look at the situation on the ground proves that such beliefs are risky, even dangerous. Sporting events remain at the mercy of pandemic-related cautionary regulations. The Philippines cancelled its hosting the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers earlier this year, letting Doha, Qatar handle it. But before the first games could be played, the alternate venue also bowed out.
The Philippine Star reports that there will be no third window qualifying games for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup happening later this month at Doha, Qatar. This was confirmed in the early morning of Friday, February 12, by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), which received the word from the Saudi Basketball Federation. Apparently the Doha sports bubble, where qualifiers for FIBA Asia Groups A (including the Philippines), B and E are to be contested, has been compromised by a rise in new COVID cases in the region. This also affects Bahrain, where qualifiers for Group C were cancelled Thursday.
No thanks to the pandemic, which has painfully reminded the world that it is still there, the Philippine men’s national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas just saw their cementing a spot at the FIBA Asia Cup foiled outside of the hard court. Presently they are still in their Calamba, Laguna training bubble looking forward to facing two games against South Korea and one against Indonesia from February 18 to 22. While a second postponement of their remaining Group A qualifying games would be a relief, not being able to play other teams again after intense preparation could drive them to frustration.
The SBP notes that FIBA is already hard at work looking for a third location to hold the final window of their Asia Cup qualifiers. They would have to hurry as the main tournament will be held in Jakarta this August, unless a drastic worsening of the pandemic situation leads to it being called off.
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