by Waylon Galvez
A top official of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said yesterday that security and safety concerns should not be an issue in Lebanon, site for this year’s FIBA Asia Cup where Gilas Pilipinas will see action on August 8- 20.
SBP executive director Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios said that as far as they as concerned, they are in constant communication with their counterparts in Lebanon and these concerns have been discussed with the local organizers.
“They assured us that everything is OK, and that there is nothing to worry about,” said Barrios in an interview with Bulletin-Tempo.
“We’re also communicating with other countries that will compete in the Asia Cup, and from what we’ve gathered, all participants are going to play in the tournament, all teams are going.”
This marks the first time that Lebanon is hosting a basketball tournament of this magnitude since holding the Stankovic Cup back in 2010.
In 2013, officials of FIBA Asia scratched the Asian Championship there due to militant conflict, transferring hosting rights to the Philippines, which staged a successful event that saw the national team finish second at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
For this year, FIBA has renamed the event Asia Cup. This will be the first time that the Asian and Oceania zones (Australia and New Zealand, among them) will compete in one tournament.
“This is a very prestigious tournament because aside from the usual Asian powerhouse teams, we’ll see for the first time in a tournament New Zealand and Australia,” said Barrios.
“This is even bigger than the Asian Games, because in the Asian Games, the two – Australia and New Zealand – are not there. Aside from that, this tournament is held only every four years,” added Barrios, who also confirmed the existence of a memorandum of agreement between the PBA and the SBP.
“Yes there is the MOA signed by the PBA and SBP,” Barrios said. “It’s clear that all players must be available for tournaments like this, 60 days before the event for ‘cadets’ and 15 days before the tournament for the ‘12 regular PBA players.’”
Gilas coach Chot Reyes the other day, bared his 24-man roster for the Asia Cup, including San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva, Barangay Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar, Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan, Star’s Jio Jalalon and Allein Maliksi, TNT KaTropa’s Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro, Globalport’s Terrence Romeo and Phoenix’s Matthew Wright – all part of the SEABA-winning Gilas team.
The other PBA players rookies Carl Bryan Cruz of Alaska, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo of Blackwater, ROS’s Mike Tolomia and Gabe Norwood, Kevin Alas of NLEX, Meralco’s Baser Amer, and Norbert Torres of Phoenix.
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