The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced Friday that the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, scheduled to start on February 17 in Doha, Qatar will not be pushing through.
The SBP received a letter from FIBA Executive Director-Asia Hagop Khajirian informing all teams from Groups A, B, and E that the Ministry of Public Health in Qatar has ordered the cancellation of all events hosted there due to the increasing rates of COVID-19 in the country.
"The SBP is saddened by the development especially because we know the kind of work that our Gilas Pilipinas Men's pool has done in Calamba," said SBP President Al Panlilio. "The players and coaching staff have all sacrificed so much in this process as they've been apart from their families to represent the Philippines against South Korea and Indonesia. We were looking forward to seeing them perform because we know that a lot of Filipinos draw inspiration from them as well during these difficult times."
It was January 10 when the first batch of players, led by Kiefer Ravena, entered the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna to start their preparations. Gilas Pilipinas was about to close their training camp as they were supposed to fly out to Doha, Qatar, Saturday evening.
"Although we are saddened by the situation, we also understand the predicament faced by the Qatar Basketball Federation as they had no choice but to follow the mandate of their government," added Panlilio.
"These are extraordinary times and we can only do our best given the hand we are dealt. We thank our Qatari friends for their willingness to host our group given the short notice and we are hoping that the rise of COVID-19 cases in their country ceases soon."
FIBA will now carefully study all the available alternatives for having the games in the near future.