By NIKOLE JAVIER
Gilas Pilipinas women are looking to compete to the best of their ability and prove that their new-found status will stay for the long haul as they make their maiden appearance in the Asian Games in China this September.
Following its rise to world No. 37 in the rankings which is a “testament to their program,” Gilas women head coach Pat Aquino is excited to go against the best in Asia and be a strong contender in the tournament.
But their biggest stumbling block in their group (B) is Japan.
The Japanese have since improved tremendously and are now ranked No. 9 in the world.
Also in their group Kazakhstan (No. 70) and Hong Kong (No. 105).
At the moment, the Gilas women are the highest placed Southeast Asian country in the FIBA rankings, prompting Aquino and the squad to show what they are made of.
“The goal is to really compete to the fullest and hopefully we could surpass the previous [achievements]. Ang hirap nito medyo kulang kulang din kami. Hindi pa kami todo [sa lineup],” Aquino said during the Gilas women’s first joint open practice with the Gilas men on Thursday, Sept. 14.
“I’m just hoping that for the girls who are here, they really proved themselves and that they really wanna play in [the Asian Games] and represent our country well. And siyempre we want to go to the best finish ever that we can get,” he added.
While the lineup is still incomplete, star player Jack Animam, who is already in China and fulfilling duties for her club team Wuhan Shengfan, is set to reunite with the squad in the hosting nation.
Aquino also shared that Animam’s club team has invited the Nationals for a l friendly game as they plan to leave early for the Asiad.
With the continued success in the women’s side, Aquino is proud of the team’s hard work and as they refuse to slow down eclipse previous best results.
“We went to the long way, long road but we are getting there. Just happy to continue what we are doing, it is a testament to our program,” said Aquino.
“We really have to prove ourselves right now that we are above all of them [at the moment]. So sana tuluy tuloy pa iyong ginagawa namin,” he concluded.