FIBA has confirmed the schedule for the next window of the FIBA Asia Cup, but Groups B, C, and F will not be played this November.
The Tall Blacks were due to host Hong Kong on 27 November and Australia on 30 November in Asia Cup Qualifying games, but current restrictions on international travel in or out of New Zealand has made those games or the possibility of playing in any other country at that time impossible.
Basketball New Zealand High-Performance Manager Leonard King said the global pandemic and the relative isolation of New Zealand has defied all the best-laid plans.
“We have been working on various options to get games played for months, not knowing what the situation was going to be like come late November. Unfortunately, however, current border restrictions and quarantine regulations mean we simply couldn’t get on the floor in November, but we remain hopeful that some of these restrictions may ease in time for games to be played early next year.”
Current government advice is that Basketball New Zealand should not send any players or teams outside of New Zealand to play or train, and with the current 14-day quarantine applying to all players and staff either arriving in or returning to New Zealand, the idea of assembling for two games is not possible.
King says aside from the logistical, player welfare is also paramount in the current environment.
“Understandably everyone is nervous of any unnecessary travel and the impact that might have on their wellbeing in these uncertain times.”
King says while the news is disruptive and disappointing given the recent high profile of the Tall Blacks on the back of their strong 2019 World Cup results and win over Australia in February in the first round of Asia Cup Qualifiers, the national body remains committed to playing out the qualifiers and indeed fulfilling other upcoming international commitments.
“Basketball New Zealand remains focused on playing the remaining qualifiers for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, if possible in February should border and quarantine restrictions change between now and then.”
The next FIBA window is scheduled for 15 to 23 February 2021.
The Tall Blacks are currently top of Group C after defeating Australia and Guam in the first round during February this year. More information can be found on the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers website.