By NIKOLE JAVIER
The Gilas Pilipinas women’s team is already deep in its training as the Filipina dribblers try to extend its regional dominance in the 31st Southeast Asian Games next year.
National team head coach Pat Aquino, who will be flying out next week to the US for a month-long trip to scout for possible naturalized players and eligible Fil-Am talents, is expecting a tough road to their goal.
The 31st edition of the sportsfest will see the Philippines face a tall task in Indonesia and other emerging talents in Vietnam and Malaysia to defend the title.
“Yung ibang teams nakikita ko like Indonesia has been recruiting so much, ang Vietnam meron silang twin sisters na galing sa States (Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong), and Malaysia now has an Australian coach,” noted Aquino in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the ground floor of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex on Tuesday.
“So we have to be prepared and try to retain that gold for us.”
But through the longer preparation time, Aquino is expecting a huge turnout next year as the Filipinas attempt to make the historic feat for the country.
With the comeback of the 24-year-old Jack Animam to the national pool after suffering an ACL injury, Aquino couldn’t be more excited about the future of the team moving forward to the international stints slated for next year.
“We’ve already been practicing three times a week for the past month already, with the addition of Jack Animam coming back from her injury.”