Faced with high odds in Olympic qualifying, Gilas women take to the field to defend their lead

Jack Animam (No. 75) will be the mainstay of the team that will play in Sydney.

Jack Animam (No. 75) will be the mainstay of the team that will play in Sydney. —DENISON REY A. DALUPANG

Shortly before denying her allegations, Gilas Pilipinas women’s team head coach Patrick Aquino called for a group chat.

It’s not the usual pattern of him praising a player and then giving the others points for improvement. This time, on a hot, steamy Monday afternoon at the Aero Center basketball gym in Quezon City, he reached out for reminders.

“I told them how difficult it is to get past a certain level,” he told the Inquirer.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where we have to start all over again. [Division B] again. it’s hard to get up [this level]. You had to go through a lot of games and top a division and then fight back to [stay there].”

Gilas Pilipinas will compete in Fiba’s Division A (International Basketball Federation) Asian Women’s Football Championship next month in Sydney, Australia, where they will face the continent’s strongest teams for one of four places. attend the Paris Olympic Games.

But if the team’s recent game at the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia is any indication, the Philippines could face high odds in the tournament set to take place on June 26.

dangerous route

Gilas’ only loss in the biennial meeting was against eventual champions Indonesia, who didn’t even play in Fiba’s top league.

Making the Philippines’ group stage route more dangerous is a host of heavyweights: six-time champion and defending champion Japan, longtime finisher on the China-Taipei podium. and global power Australia.

“I ask them to remember the times when we fought hard [to get to Division A] because that’s the only attitude we’ll need. ‘To be better. Get even better.” Aquino said, referring to the top Philippine status he won eight years ago.

According to the concurrent program director, Gilas has to play to prove it belongs in it. Especially now with the second tier teams getting even better.

“We have been there for a long time and I think we have to be at the same level as the teams that play there. We need to be up there,” Aquino said.

“I don’t want us to be confused with Indonesia and all the other teams. Like Jordan, where there is a WNBA player. Kazakhstan, which has always been tall. Malaysia is always [lurking]. Then there is also Thailand that rarely returns.

Session twice a day

The Gilas Brain Trust plans to use the same listings it used in Phnom Penh, but it plans to make some adjustments to accommodate Duke starter Vanessa de Jesus, who recently has qualified to compete as a naturalized player.

Jack Danielle Animam was also selected to the squad, who told the Inquirer she is committed to playing for Gilas until the Asian Games in China this September before returning to her quest to win the WNBA.

Gilas will continue to train and polish his game at Aero before kicking things off with twice-daily training sessions until they fly to Sydney.

“All the things we should be doing in Cambodia, we need to do more 1685049621,” Aquino said.

“We’re not going there to just hang around and try to win, hopefully, in the last game,” he added. “We need to be prepared.”

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