MANILA – The Philippines will hold its FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers (ACQ) third window bubble starting mid-June.
In a statement on Friday night, FIBA said all the games of the Philippine bubble would happen on June 16-20.
Initially scheduled for March, the Philippines had been handed the rights to host the matches for Group A, where Gilas Pilipinas belongs, and Group C.
However, due to travel restrictions set for South Korea, also part of Group A, and Australia, which is part of Group C, because of the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had to let go of the hosting rights, with the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) stepping in.
However, the QBF begged off from hosting as well, due to a Covid-19 surge in Doha, and the SBP got a chance to reclaim the hosting after the Philippine government lifted the travel ban on South Korea and Australia.
But in effect, the games had to be postponed.
Like the second window last November, the games will be held in a bubble format due to the pandemic, with the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center as the arena and the Quest Hotel in the nearby city of Mabalacat as the official residence.
3 groups in
Groups A and C are not the only bunches in the Angeles bubble as FIBA also announced that the Group B games will be held there too.
With this development, Gilas will welcome 11 teams that look to book spots in the FIBA Asia Cup in Jakarta in August.
Gilas and South Korea are grouped alongside Indonesia and Thailand in Group A while joining Australia in Group C are New Zealand, Guam, and Hong Kong.
Group B consists of Chinese Taipei, Japan, Malaysia, and China.
Speaking of China, the team could have some tuneup games to be played in the Philippines before swinging into ACQ action.
Ricky Vargas, chairman of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) board of governors, said earlier in the day that he is eyeing a best-of-seven friendly series between the Chinese squad and the league's superstars.
"I would like to see Season 46 jumpstarted with this exhibition match, the technical aspects of which could be crafted by our tournament officials," he said in a statement, which came in line with the PBA's 46th founding anniversary.
If it pushes through, NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is being eyed as the head coach for the PBA All-Stars, which would be known as the "Warriors".
"I think he would be perfect to lead a courageous charge for national pride and honor," Vargas said of Guiao, who previously coached Gilas for the 2018 Asian Games and a hectic 2019 calendar that featured the FIBA World Cup (WC) Qualifiers and the FIBA WC itself.
China has yet to play in the ACQ after begging off from the first two windows due to the pandemic.
FIBA slapped China with point deductions due to the instances of backing out.