The Philippines won’t be pushing through with its hosting of the FIBA-Asia Cup qualifiers next month.
Travel restrictions imposed by the government have forced organizers to cancel the cagefest, which is set from Feb. 18 to 21.
The continuing threat of the coronavirus pandemic has kept the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas from staging the final window of the Asia Cup.
"The SBP wanted nothing else than to be with the international basketball community as it attempts to bounce back in 2021 after taking a huge hit during the pandemic," said the SBP in a statement.
The presence of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus has severely affected the travel arrangements of numerous countries, which are supposed to send participants.
"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 announced it is no longer going to happen," the SBP said.
The games were supposed to be played in a bubble type set-up.
Among the countries in the list of participants include South Korea (Group A), Australia (Group C), and Hong Kong (Group C).
“The SBP offered to welcome not just Group A where we (Gilas Pilipinas) 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 skills without having to worry about anything else,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.
The current travel ban is supposed to end on January 31.
But the chances of an extension of the ban are now possible after the new COVID-19 variant that was first traced in the United Kingdom was detected inside the country.
“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,” said the SBP chief.
Japan, which is also hosting Group B of the qualifiers, also begged off from staging the meet.
Japanese cagers are bunched with those from Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, and China.