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Coach Pat Aquino believes Gilas Women capable of dominating SEA Games competitions

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 24/05/2022 REY JOBLE
Photo: PSC/POC Photo: PSC/POC

After years of watching regional rivals taking home the gold medal, the Philippine national women’s basketball team looks ready to take its place as Southeast Asia’s powerhouse following titles in back-to-back editions of the SEA Games’ 5-on-5 women’s basketball tournament.

And Gilas Pilipinas Women coach Pat Aquino believes that the team is capable of continuing on this run.

“I think we’re capable of dominating in the SEA Games,” Aquino told GMA News Online in a telephone interview. “We’ve proven that when we regained the championship this year.”

For two decades, the Philippines — traditionally, the region’s powerhouse in men’s basketball before falling short of the gold for the first time in three decades last Sunday — could only watch Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand alternate victories in the women’s basketball event.

But they broke through three years ago in the 2019 edition in Manila, when Gilas Women swept the competition on their home floor en route to its first-ever gold medal in the SEA Games. They made it a double celebration after winning the inaugural women’s 3x3 tournament as well.

They followed that up with another golden conquest in Hanoi this year, despite missing premier center Jack Animam, who was sidelined by ACL and MCL injuries ahead of this tournament.

They fell short of a sweep this time around, but still clinched the gold with the best record in the round robin tournament.

“We just wanted to continue what we started in 2019 and I’m just happy we secured the gold despite losing to Malaysia,” Aquino added. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow not being able to sweep the tournament, but nonetheless, I’m proud of what these young ladies showed throughout the tournament.”  

With the success of the national team and the prospect of taking it to a higher level, Aquino has been asked to spend more time with the program, where he serves not only as head coach but as program director as well.

But in doing so, Aquino will have to step down as head coach of the National University Lady Bulldogs, a team that he led to a historic run in the UAAP, going unbeaten in six seasons with 96 consecutive wins.

Looking ahead, though, Gilas Women’s team-up with Fil-Am Nation, a program built to identify talented young Filipina players based overseas, is expected to pay off in the near future.

By June 9, several young players will be coming over to train with the Under-16 division program.

“The Fil-Am nation was put up not just to recruit Fil-foreign players who could help us play in the national team, but it’s also a way to strengthen our grassroots development program,” the multi-titled coach said.

“We’re encouraging Fil-Am players below 16 years old to get Philippine passports and join our training so they can play in the Under-16 tournament.”

—JMB, GMA News

This article Coach Pat Aquino believes Gilas Women capable of dominating SEA Games competitions was originally published in GMA News Online.

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