Home Sports Gilas girls return to work, shoot for promotion in China

Gilas girls return to work, shoot for promotion in China


Gabby Ramos (No. 4) and AvaFajardo (No. 3) are among
the promising players of this
young Gilas Pilipinas squad.

Gabby Ramos (No. 4) and Ava Fajardo (No. 3) are among the promising players of this young Gilas Pilipinas squad.—PHOTO BY FIBA ASIA

Days removed from sweeping the Fiba Under-18 Women’s Asia Cup qualifiers in Thailand, Gilas Pilipinas wasted no time in preparing for the main draw that will be held in Shenzhen, China, a few weeks from now.

“Preparing early is crucial, especially when facing tougher opponents,” program director and seniors team head coach Pat Aquino told the Inquirer on Friday.

“We want to make sure we maintain our competitive edge,” he went on. “Given the short period between tournaments, it’s important to make adjustments in all aspects of our game—from team strategies to individual skills.”

The young Nationals, coached in the Ratchaburi province showcase last weekend by Julie Amos, crushed host Thailand, Malaysia and then Indonesia to gain passage into the Division B meet where a promotion to the tournament’s top bracket is at stake.

The team, while celebrating Aquino’s birthday last Thursday, began priming and plotting for the meet in China that gets going on June 24.

“I will continue to polish [the girls] offensively,” Amos told the Inquirer in an earlier interview this week. There were situations [where] we needed to slow down to see mismatches and needed timing. We [also] need to be more consistent with our rotations and individual stops.”

Balanced group

In Shenzhen, the young Nationals who are ranked 49th in the world, take on No. 86, Lebanon; No. 51, Syria; and No. 96, Maldives.

Slotted in the other group are Iran, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan and Samoa, which is ranked a shade above the Filipinos.

The Philippines was off to a promising start in the last edition of the tournament held in India two years ago. But the squad ran into a tough-as-nails Malaysian side that escaped by the skin of its teeth in overtime in the semifinals.

“Returning to Division B means that we are back and have another opportunity to aim for Division A, which I believe is fantastic. I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘unfinished business,’ but rather a chance to prove our growth and improvement as a team,” said Aquino.

“Two years ago, we fell short against Malaysia, and that experience has only strengthened our resolve. However, most of the girls on this team are new and not from the same batch, so I don’t want to put too much pressure on them,” he added of the team that now features Ava Fajardo, Alicia Villanueva, Gabby Ramos, and Tiff Reyes.

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“Yes, our focus is winning it all and of course, working hard to earn that ticket to Division A, but we [also] want [the ladies] to have fun and enjoy the journey,” Aquino said.

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