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 Pilipinas huddles during its first practice for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center. (Jonas Terrado)

Gilas Pilipinas will have extended preparation time following the postponement of next week’s FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers home match against Thailand. (Jonas Terrado)

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.

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.

The development will give the national team enough time to prepare for the two games, given that it made late additions following the pullout of PBA stars Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger, Mac Belo and Matthew Wright.

Gilas filled the void by adding Justin Chua, Vic Manuel, Abu Tratter and Justin Chua to the pool composed mostly of amateur standouts.

But the uncertainty of when the game will push through may also force Gilas to make significant adjustments.

Source: Manila Bulletin