Gilas women look to benefit from FIBA pre-qualifying tilt

Published October 27, 2019, 7:54 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Gilas Pilipinas is hoping to benefit from its upcoming participation in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying tournament that will be held two weeks before the start of the 30th Southeast Asian Games on home soil.

Janine Pontejos, Pat Aquino, Afril Bernardino

Gilas women’s coach Pat Aquino and some of his players at the PSA Forum recently.

The national cagebelles of coach Patrick Aquino are slated to face host New Zealand, South Korea and China in Group A of the Asia-Oceania tournament set Nov. 14 to 17 in Auckland.

The top two teams in the group advance to next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

While the odds are stacked against them, Aquino wants to see his team take advantage of the experience in order to prepare for SEA Games which opens Nov. 30.

Basketball competitions, however, won’t start until Dec. 4.

“Well they are the best of Asia and Oceania and giving our very best and competing with them will make us more prepared for the coming SEA Games,” Aquino said.

It will be Gilas’ second major tournament after placing seventh in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Bangalore, India.

Aquino is likely to field the same roster from the Asia Cup, though Claire Castro may join the squad for the Auckland tilt provided she gets a release from Far Eastern University.

Among the notable players who stood out in the Asia Cup were Afril Bernardino, Gemma Miranda, Kelly Hayes, Janine Pontehos and Ana Alicia Castillo.

Bernardino was Gilas’ top scorer during the tourney with an average of 11.8 points per game.

Gilas has been busy since the Asia Cup, holding regular practices while also trying to help the Philippines secure a spot in the OQT of the women’s 3×3 division by competing in numerous tournaments.

“We’ve been practicing since we got back from India. At the same time we are also doing 3×3 events for the ranking points in the Olympics. Kaya medyo busy talaga kami,” Aquino said.

“We hope that we can compete well for the coming pre-qualifying and a good preparation for the SEA Games,” added Aquino.