GILAS Pilipinas women’s team — FIBA

THERE will be no rest for the weary as the Gilas Pilipinas women’s team shifts its focus to 3×3 play next week for a nonstop development of its overall program.

Fresh from a podium finish in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Under 16 (U16) Women’s Asian Championship, the Nationals are already back in training to brace for the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup in Singapore starting on Wednesday.

The Philippine cagebelles, under the watch of program director and head coach Pat Aquino, will leave on Tuesday as they still need to go through the qualifying phase to get in the main draw.

“FIBA 3×3 is next so we’re having continuous training to prepare for future competitions. Hopefully, we will have more tournaments soon to keep our competitive spirit and see the things we need to improve on,” Mr. Aquino told The STAR.

“I’m happy that we’re building the future of women’s basketball,” he added as Gilas is also in line for the 2022 FIBA U18 Women’s Asian Championship in India.

Led by veterans Afril Bernardino, Camille Clarin, Khate Castillo and Katrina Guytingco, the 13th-seeded Gilas will go up against No. 18 Jordan and Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist Thailand (No. 6) in the Qualifying Draw B.

It’s a golden chance for former SEA Games champion Gilas to avenge its dismal fourth-place finish in Hanoi, Vietnam last May and improve on its eighth-place finish in the last 3×3 Asia Cup held in Changsha, China in 2019.

This year’s 3×3 Asia Cup is the largest delegation in history amid the pandemic, featuring 53 teams (30 men’s, 23 women’s) from 30 countries across the continent.

Though it fell short from gaining a Division A promotion, Gilas last week resumed its youth program on a high note with a bronze medal in U16 as an early preparation for its future.

“I’m very proud. It’s a learning lesson for all. As time goes on, there will be more players and talents that will come in. Hopefully, it will lead to more success and a good future for the entire Philippine women’s basketball,” he added after Gilas girls’ return to U16 action after a decade. — John Bryan Ulanday