The Jakarta Post
Indonesia will hold the 2021 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup qualification this week despite a concern over the threat of COVID-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus, following a green light from the association.
Speaking after attending a limited Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Tuesday, Indonesian Basketball Association (Perbasi) chairman Danny Kosasih said that FIBA had recommended the national association to go on with the qualifiers.
“We have received a letter from FIBA that recommends that we continue to hold the qualification game on Feb. 20 [Thursday],” Danny said.
The Indonesian national basketball team is set to face South Korea and the Philippines on Thursday and Sunday, respectively, at the Mahaka Arena in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. The three countries were drawn in Group A, along with Thailand.
Perbasi previously had to seek confirmation from the Youth and Sports Ministry regarding the qualification event amid the COVID-19 outbreak that has spread across several Southeast Asian countries. The outbreak has also killed one person in the Philippines.
The ministry responded by issuing a recommendation letter on Friday last week for the basketball association to cancel the qualification event. The letter was issued after the ministry consulted with the Health Ministry.
A total of 24 countries will take part in the qualifiers – divided into six groups. According to FIBA, the top two teams of each group will secure places at the 2021 Asia Cup. Meanwhile, the third-placed team in each group will battle over the four remaining slots in the tournament.
The qualifiers will run until February next year, as teams play both home and away matches – giving local supporters the opportunity to cheer on their national squads directly during the matches. The second window of the qualifiers will be held in November, while the last is scheduled for February 2021.
Team Indonesia is currently working to naturalize two United States-born players, Lester Prosper and Brandon Jawato, to strengthen the national team. The process, however, was still being reviewed by the President.
“We will play an all-Indonesian team [for this qualifier],” Danny said.
During Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, President Jokowi had asked Perbasi to prepare a strong squad for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Indonesia will jointly host the event with the Philippines and Japan.
The national basketball team has yet to achieve a good result lately. During the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines in December, team Indonesia – currently standing 88th in the FIBA World Rankings – only finished fourth after losing to Vietnam in the third-place match.