PH 5 stint in Beirut next year under study
MANILA, Philippines - If the situation in Lebanon doesn't improve, the Philippine Basketball Association won't allow its players to play in the FIBA Asia Championship slated in Beirut next year.
National coach Chot Reyes himself is not ready to put the team at risk in competing in a war-struck country.
"First, we have to listen to the advisory of FIBA Asia. But if there's any lingering doubt to the safety of our players, why take the risk of sending them there," PBA commissioner Chito Salud told The STAR.
"That's (unrest in Beirut) the reason why only five teams participated (in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup) this year from 10 in Manila last year," said Reyes.
FIBA Asia put off Monday night the final game of the 2012 FIBA Asia Champions Cup due to the prevailing situation in the Lebanese capital.
Iran's Mahram team has left Lebanon without playing the finale against the hosts' Al Riyadi Beirut.
"FIBA Asia will take a decision on holding the final game of the event very soon," said FIBA Asia secretary general Hagop Khajirian on fibaasia.net.
"Hopefully, the situation there improves by next year. But if there's any doubt to the safety of our players, we'll not let our players to be there," Salud stressed.
On Monday, seven people were killed and dozens were injured in clashes in Beirut stemming from conflict related to the civil war in neighboring Syria.
On Tuesday, Lebanese troops were deployed on the streets to calm tension amid mounting fears that last week's deadly car bombing in Beirut could spill into Lebanon and drag the country into Syria’s bloody civil war.
At least 100 people, including 31 Syrians, were apprehended in raids in Beirut and the Lebanese port city of Tripoli, news outlet NNA has reported. Fifteen soldiers, including two officers, were slightly wounded during the operations, the NNA also said.
Lebanese tanks, armored personnel carriers and soldiers have patrolled the two cities in the wake of the car bombing that killed the nation's top intelligence chief. On Monday, seven people were killed in unrest in Tripoli in clashes among rivaling groups of Sunnis and Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, NNA reported.
Friday's bombing killed the nation's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, who had criticized the Syrian government for meddling in Lebanon’s affairs and blamed Damascus for political assassinations.