THE Philippine women’s basketball team flew to Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday night ahead of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women’s Asia Cup where they will be competing beginning next week.
The Gilas Pilipinas Women is bracketed in Group B of the competition, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, along with China, Australia and Chinese-Taipei. They will try to stay in the top three in the grouping to advance to the next round and avert risking being relegated to Division B play in FIBA Asia.
Coached by long-time national team bench tactician Patrick Aquino, the Gilas women squad is composed of a mixed of veteran and new players.
Southeast Asian Games 2019 double gold medal winners Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos and Clare Castro banner the team, along with Andrea Tongco, Chack Cabinbin, Mar Prado, Khate Castillo and Ria Nabalan.
Making their senior team debuts, meanwhile, are Ella Fajardo, Camille Clarin, Ann Pingol, and Kristine Cayabyab.
The Philippines begins its Women’s Asia Cup campaign on Sept. 27 against China at 9 p.m. (Manila time). It then collides with Australia on Sept. 29 then plays Chinese-Taipei on Sept. 30.
Venue is the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman.
Playing in Group A, meanwhile, are Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and India.
In its power rankings heading into the Asia Cup, FIBA placed the Philippines at sixth out of the eight participating teams.
The world basketball governing body noted that the Gilas women will have their hands full against China and Australia, the number one-ranked and third teams, respectively, while seeing the contest against Chinese-Taipei (seventh) as crucial.
It went on to note that the leadership of the likes of Mses. Bernardino, Pontejos and Castro will go a long way for their campaign.
Prior to leaving for Jordan, Mr. Aquino shared they recognize the tough challenge that awaits them and that they are going about it a game at a time and making sure they execute their game plan.
Gilas Pilipinas Women had its “bubble” training at the Summit Point Golf & Country Club in Lipa, Batangas, for two weeks as part of its preparation.
In 2019, the Philippines went 0-3 in group play of the Asia Cup, but salvaged one win over India in the seventh place game to avoid being relegated. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo