By Jonas Terrado
World governing body FIBA early Friday confirmed the rescheduling of Gilas Pilipinas’ 2021 Asia Cup Qualifiers home match against Thailand due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Gilas was supposed to host the Thais on Feb. 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to kick off its campaign in the qualifiers but FIBA decided it would be best the move the game to a later date.
“Due to the current coronavirus outbreak, FIBA Asia has taken the decision to postpone the following FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifier games,” FIBA said through its Asia Cup Twitter account.
FIBA also postponed China’s two road games against Japan on Feb. 21 and Malaysia on Feb. 24.
The Gilas home game is the latest sporting event to be postponed as the local sporting scene opted to make preventive measures against the spread of the virus.
The PBA earlier this week pushed the opening of its 45th season from March 1 to 8 and the D-League Aspirants’ Cup from last Thursday to March 2.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas was supposed to play the Macau Black Bears in the ASEAN Basketball League in Sta. Rosa, Laguna but it was one of 15 games that were rescheduled by the regional league.
⚠️Due to the current #coronavirus outbreak, @FIBA Asia has taken the decision to postpone the following #FIBAAsiaCup 2021 Qualifier games:
20 Feb: PHI vs THA
21 Feb: JPN vs CHN
24 Feb: CHN vs MAS
The new dates will be announced later!
— FIBA Asia Cup (@FIBAAsiaCup) February 13, 2020
The UAAP suspended all second semester games beginning Saturday, prompting the delay of the much-anticipated volleyball season, while the NCAA began suspending sporting activities in both the senior and juniors divisions.
There is still no word if Gilas’ road match against Indonesia set Feb. 23 in Jakarta will also be delayed.
“Practice will continue,” Cui said. “No official confirmation from FIBA yet regarding Feb. 23 game vs Indonesia.”
The development will give Gilas enough time to hone its skills and also build team chemistry, especially with Vic Manuel, Abu Tratter, Justin Chua and Javee Mocon serving as replacements to Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger, Matthew Wright and Mac Belo who pulled due to various reasons.
“Mas lalo pa naming mae-enhance yung chemistry and yung system mas ma-eembrace pa namin,” said Mocon, who appeared in his first Gilas practice last Wednesday.
But the uncertainty of when the game will push through may also force Gilas to make significant adjustments.
The home match is one of three postponed for the upcoming window, with China’s two road meetings against Japan on Feb. 21 and Malaysia on Feb. 24 also suspended.
The FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers became the latest local sporting event to be postponed, following the heed of the PBA, ASEAN Basketball League, UAAP and NCAA.
The PBA shifted the opening of its 45th season from March 1 to 8 while the D-League Aspirants Cup was supposed to start last Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, but was moved to March 2.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas was originally set to face the Macau Black Bears this Sunday at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna but the ABL decided to include it as one of 15 games reschedule due to travel restrictions.
The UAAP suspended second semester events, prompting the delay of the much-anticipated volleyball season which would have started Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The NCAA also halted all events in the juniors and seniors division which also led to the suspension of the ongoing volleyball tourney.