Retooled Gilas women to pounce on elusive SEA Games gold

With foreign exposure and Fil-Am reinforcement, the Gilas women's squad looks poised to clinch its 1st SEA Games gold

Beatrice Go

Published: 6:55 PM July 30, 2019

Updated: 6:55 PM July 30, 2019

1ST GOLD. The Gilas women's team looks to bag the elusive SEA Games gold medal once and for all. File photo by Joaqui Flores/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine national women's basketball team donned a new look that could translate to its first Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold in the country's hosting of the 30th edition of the regional biennial meet. 

In the team's debut in the William Jones Cup women's tournament, Gilas Pilipinas women brought in Filipino-American players Mei-Lyn Bautista, Kelli Hayes, Gabi Bade, and Arnecia Hawkins, who will be vital in reinforcing the team in its 2019 SEA Games campaign. 

"Now that I’ve experienced coaching internationally, probably I could bring in more for them," said national team head coach and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas women's program director Patrick Aquino on Tuesday, July 30, in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Amelie Hotel. 

"Mas ma-prepare ko sila, mas maguiguide ko sila and for a fact na meron pa tayong Fil-Ams, siguro mas ready to get that gold this time." 

(I can prepare them more, I can guide them more and for the fact that we have Fil-Ams on the team, I think we're more ready to get that gold this time.) 

With Aquino at helm in the last two SEA Games editions, the women's national team fell short of a podium finish

But with increased international exposure like the Jones Cup and FIBA Women's Asia Cup, the five-time UAAP women's basketball champion shared that the players are more excited and motivated to clinch the country's first gold medal in SEA Games women's basketball. 

"'This is pressure,' I told the players," said Aquino. 

"We wouldn’t get to this level, we wouldn’t get to that gold if you’re not pressured like me. Like we have to eat pressure everyday and they were excited when we came into the Jones Cup with the Fil-Ams coming in for the first time, so I guess that’s just the start of something big that we look forward to." 

Despite emerging winless in the 2019 Jones Cup against teams like New Zealand, Japan, Taipei A, South Korea and Taipei B, Aquino sees it as a blessing in disguise as there’s so much that the team could improve on. 

"We did not have the chemistry and the fluidity. The talent is there. It’s just that the other teams had chemistry," he added of the squad that is bound to compete in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Bangalore, India from September 22 to 29. – Rappler.com