THE Japan B.League has called off its anticipated All-Star Game featuring a slew of Filipino players scheduled on Jan. 14-15 at the Okinawa Arena due to the rise of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases among the participants.

In an announcement on Thursday, the B.League said it has scratched the midseason spectacle due to the expected absence of 44% of players, who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or deemed as close contacts.

“It is unfortunate that the event has been canceled for the second consecutive year. I am very sorry,” said B.League chairman Shinji Shimada, who thanked Okinawa City for preparation of the now aborted games.

The B.League was set to stage a historic match between Rising Stars made up of promising Japanese locals and Asia All-Stars featuring eight Filipino imports under the Asian Player Quota program.

Messrs. Kiefer (Shiga) and Thirdy Ravena (San-en), Javi (Ibaraki) and Juan (Earthfriends Tokyo Z) de Liaño, Ray Parks, Jr. (Nagoya), Kobe Paras (Niigata), Dwight Ramos (Toyama) and Kemark Cariño (Aomori Wat’s) were to lead Asia All-Stars alongside fellow Asian imports.

Matthew Aquino of Shinshu, who has been playing as a local there due to his Japanese heritage, was supposed to play for the B.League Rising Stars.

In the side events, Messrs. Paras (Slam Dunk), Javi (Three-Point Shootout), Kiefer (Skills Challenge) and Thirdy (Skills Challenge) were to strut their stuff as well.

On top of the All-Star Game, the B.League has also postponed the match between Niigata and Osaka with more games this weekend in peril of being called off. — John Bryan Ulanday