"We have been in discussions with FIBA and we want to follow the competition calendar where we're supposed to play Thailand and Korea," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio on Thursday after 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers announced new game schedules.

/ 20 November 2020

SBP is expecting that the original schedule would be followed for the November window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, with officials saying the cramped new schedule is unfair to Gilas.

Under the original schedule which is still posted on the FIBA Asia Cup’s official website, Gilas Pilipinas will take on Thailand on Nov. 26, Korea on Nov. 28, and Thailand again on Nov. 30.

“We’re prepared to play two games against Thailand, and (one against) Korea,” said Panlilio.

Reports have been circulated over the past few days saying that FIBA has made adjustments to the series of games to be played in the Manama bubble.

Those changes indicate that the Philippine team will have a grueling schedule of four games-in-four days, with the Thailand game moved to November 27, and a November 29 game against Indonesia, which was moved from the third window in February 2021.

Panlilio said that the adjustments in the game schedules put the Philippines at a disadvantage.

“That is unfair to us,” he said. “Dapat sa February pa yun, (the second games against) Korea and Indonesia. We want to follow the competition calendar given to us and that’s where we stand today.”

Meanwhile, SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan said that the alteration of the schedules may have been caused by the uncertainty of Korea’s presence in the said window.

It is still uncertain for Korea whether FIBA will forfeit their games or reschedule them since the country has reportedly pulled off from flying to Bahrain due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Korea has indicated that for their own reasons, they will not be able to participate. If the team doesn’t show up, I guess Fiba should impose sanctions whether financially or forfeit the game,” said Pangilinan.

For Pangilinan, FIBA’s decision on the case of Korea will be critical in Gilas’ schedule heading to the third window next year.

“It’s not clear yet what the FIBA decision is. They might not impose on Korea. We’re waiting for that decision. The forfeiture part will drive who we’ll play in the February window as well,” he said. “Does Korea forfeit this game? In my idea, technically they should.”

SBP chairman emeritus said that Gilas will have no problem playing with Indonesia, but only in an exhibition game.

“We’re happy to play with Indonesia anytime, but the question is whether the ruling for that game will be rated or unrated? If it’s a friendly game, I have no problem. But if it’s a rated game, we’re looking as if may big question mark for us, if I’ll put it politely.”

Panlilio is still arranging and doing dialogues with FIBA to talk about the issue before the scheduled departure of Gilas to Bahrain on Sunday.