In the Fiba Asia Champions Cup, MERALCO will be unable to conclude any unfinished business. At the last minute, the Bolts were replaced by Al Riyadi of the Lebanese Basketball League, as Fiba decided to have champion ballclubs compete in the Sept. 24 to 29 meet in Thailand. On Sunday, Meralco coach Norman Black verified the news. "Yes, we were told we wouldn't be traveling to Thailand," the champion mentor confirmed. Last year, the Bolts represented the country at the same competition, where after a sluggish start, they advanced to the semifinals before losing to Iran's Petrochimi Bandar Imam. Meralco lost to Seoul SK Knights in the bronze medal match. The Bolts were set to fight for the championship after receiving the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to compete in the annual meet, behind a retooled lineup that now includes big man Raymund Almazan and young rookie guns, Trevis Jackson and Bong Quinto. In addition, Allen Durham, a two-time Best Import, will team up with Renaldo Balkman, a former NBA player. However, event organizers chose to take a different approach this year, with San Miguel Beer, the reigning PBA Commissioner's Cup champion, or TnT Katropa, the runner-up, as the country's official representative in the meet. Unfortunately, the Beermen, Katropa, and the Blackwater Elite have long been committed to competing in the East Asia League Terrific 12 in Macau, which begins on Sept. 17 and includes top club teams from across the region. As of publication, SPIN.ph's text messages to the SBP hierarchy have not yet been responded to. With Al-Riyadi replacing Meralco, the tournament will be devoid of a Philippine team, even though the Filipinos have won the event four times. Al-Riyadi has won the tournament twice, most recently in Chenzhou, China, in 2017. Alvar Tokyo (Japan), Hitech Bangkok City (Thailand), Hyundai Mobis (South Korea), Guangdong Southern Tigers (China), Fubon Braves (Taipei), Al Muharraq (Bahrain), and Palayesh Naft Abadan (Lebanon) round out the eight-team tournament (Iran).
Meralco’s participation in the Fiba Asia Champions Cup has been canceled, and Al Riyadi has taken the place of the Bolts