MANILA, Philippines -- The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is working with relevant agencies to ensure a successful hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga this June.
According to SBP President Al Panlilio, they have remained in close coordination with the Inter-Agency Task Force as well as the PBA to aid them in the hosting.
The Philippines was supposed to host the third and final window of the qualifiers in February, with the SBP setting up a biosecure bubble in Clark, Pampanga similar to what was used by the PBA in the 2020 All-Filipino Cup.
However, SBP was forced to withdraw as hosts due to the travel ban imposed by the government in February.
The qualifiers were moved to Doha, Qatar, but it could not push through in that city as well due to rising cases of COVID-19 infections.
"We've always been very close naman to FIBA, and we always wanted to support their programs," said Panlilio in an appearance on "Power and Play" on Saturday. "Being part of the basketball family of FIBA, it's our way of helping FIBA really start or at least make the activities or the programs happen for FIBA."
Panlilio explained that the SBP has "always been in touch with the IATF," particularly testing czar Vince Dizon who was also instrumental in bringing the PBA to Clark last year.
"Their team has been working very hard with us," said Panlilio. "When we said that maybe June, is there a possibility that we can bring it back here? They said, yes."
The Philippines will host three groups in Clark: Group A, which includes Gilas Pilipinas, Korea, Indonesia and Thailand; Group B which includes Chinese Taipei, China, Japan and Malaysia; and Group C which includes Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and Hong Kong.
To help the SBP in its task, they are calling on the PBA and Commissioner Willie Marcial's support.
"They have the experience," said Panlilio. "And they're willing to help naman the SBP to make sure that we have a very successful hosting, a safe and successful hosting."
He also assured that they have the support of Dizon, who is also the president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
"Sila Sec. Vince Dizon are very, very aware of what needs to be done," Panlilio said.
Nonetheless, Panlilio is also well aware that the situation in the country is fluid, given the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Saturday, there are a total of 926,052 cases in the Philippines, including 11,101 additional infections.
"We've indicated to FIBA, that of course times are very uncertain," said Panlilio. "We are committed, but again, there's always this chance na merong mangyari."
"But we are fully committed to host in June," he stressed.
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