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KUALA LUMPUR: The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has also affected the international basketball schedule with the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) calling off several Asia Cup qualifying matches.

The matches that have been called off are the Group A tie between the Philippines-Thailand on Feb 20 and the Group B matches between Japan-China (Feb 21) and China-Malaysia (Feb 24).

On their social media accounts, Fiba announced that those matches have been postponed due to the virus outbreak and new dates will be announced later.

Other matches during the first international window will, however, not be affected, for now.

That means that Malaysia will still have to travel to Taiwan to take on the Taiwanese side on Feb 21.

Malaysia Basketball Association (Maba) deputy secretary-general Sim Sin Heng lauded the decision to call off some matches but believes the international body should have postponed more matches.

“Fiba actually asked us if we could swap our matches — to host China this month and play the away game in the second window in November,” said Sin Heng.

“However, with the current situation of the virus, we were not sure whether Chinese players would be allowed into Malaysia, so we declined.

“But we actually requested Fiba to postpone the game with Taiwan as well because there is genuine concern regarding health and safety. Unfortunately our request was denied twice.”

“What’s worse now is that although we would really love an opportunity to take on the Asian giants, parents and families of our players are against such an idea.

“We have once again appealed to Fiba to postpone the Taiwan game because there is a nine-month gap until the second international window, so hopefully this can be resolved soon,” added Sin Heng.