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Philippine basketball team denied entry to Taiwan tournament

2013/05/28 14:39:34

Manila/Taipei, May 28 (CNA) The Philippine men's national basketball team has not been invited to take part in an annual invitational tournament in Taiwan because of the ongoing diplomatic rift over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman on May 9.

Chot Reyes, head coach of his country's national basketball team, wrote on his Facebook page Monday that Taiwan had informed him that his team would not be invited to this year's William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament, scheduled to take place in New Taipei July 6-14.

"We now have to find a replacement tournament as Jones Cup is such an integral part of our preparation (for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship for Men)," Reyes wrote.

The 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, to be held Aug. 1-11 in Manila, is the qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

The Philippines captured the Jones Cup men's title last year and has won it four times since 1977.

Lee Yi-chung, secretary-general of the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association, confirmed Tuesday that the Philippines will not be invited to the tournament in line with the government's retaliatory measures against Manila over the attack by a Philippine patrol boat on a Taiwanese fishing boat that left a Taiwanese fisherman dead.

The association will invite seven foreign teams to join two Taiwanese teams in this year's tournament, Lee said, but the event will be without one of its best draws.

Because the Philippines and Taiwan are fierce basketball rivals and many Filipinos work in Taiwan, games between teams from the two countries usually attract some of the best crowds at the annual tournament.

In response to Manila's failure to meet Taiwan's demands following the incident, Taiwan imposed a freeze on hiring Filipinos, recalled its representative to the Philippines, and expelled the Philippine representative in Taipei.

Taipei also issuing a red travel alert for the Philippines and suspended economic, technological, cultural and sports exchanges.

An AP report quoted Philippine tourism officials, meanwhile, as saying that they stand to lose US$4.5 million monthly in canceled hotel reservations and charter flights from Taiwan because of the diplomatic dispute.

Most of the cancellations have been for trips to the popular beach resort of Boracay in the central Philippines, where Taiwanese visitors form the second largest group of visitors after South Koreans.

In 2012, Taiwanese people made more than 90,000 visits to Boracay.

The spat was triggered by the killing of Hung Shih-cheng when a Philippine patrol boat sprayed bullets at the fishing boat he was on in overlapping waters of the two countries' exclusive economic zones.

(By Emerson Lim, Lee Yu-cheng and Sofia Wu)