GILAS Pilipinas girls begin its quest for a Division A promotion when it takes on Thailand in the start of Division B action in the FIBA U18 Women’s Asian Championship in Bangalore, India today.
Action sizzles at 6:15 p.m. (Manila time) with the Filipina cagebelles eyeing a good start in Group A that also features Samoa and Maldives.
Gilas missed out on a Division A qualification in the U16 category last June in Jordan with a bronze medal finish, making it a perfect opportunity to get the job done this time.
But that goal is easier said than done, warned coach Pat Aquino, with an expected tough field including Group B’s Jordan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Mongolia.
“It’s totally different from U16 but as always, we will try to complete to the highest level,” Mr. Aquino told The STAR as only the Division B champion gets to advance in Division A.
Aside from a tough opposition, Gilas will also deal with chemistry issues given a short preparation time and a hybrid squad featuring local standouts and prized recruits from the states led by UC San Diego — commit Sumayah Sugapong.
Kristan Yumul is only among the few familiar names for Gilas girls after leading the U16 team behind averages of 21.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
“Half of the team is from the States and half of team is from here so chemistry was something that needed work but the kids are hungry and ready to go play and represent the country,” added Mr. Aquino.
Gilas battles Samoa and Maldives next tomorrow and Tuesday, respectively, in a bid to finish No. 1 in Group A and clinch an outright semifinal berth. — John Bryan Ulanday