The Gilas Pilipinas Women’s team made its long-awaited Asian Games debut at the Shaoxing Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium in China yesterday.
Awaiting the Gilas Women in their first game of the 19th Asiad is Kazakhstan, a perennial contender that has made the quarterfinals in the last two editions of the games.
While he acknowledged the significance of the match, Gilas coach Pat Aquino stressed that his players must be focused on the task at hand.
“The girls are excited and ready for their first Asian Games,” Aquino, who has steered Gilas Women to back-to-back golds in the Southeast Asian Games as well as to Division A of FIBA Asia, said.
“But we have to stay focused mentally and physically,” he added.
Leading the way for the squad are veterans Jack Animam, Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos.
They are joined by Chack Cabinbin, Louna Ozar, Khate Castillo, Katrina Guytingco, Stefanie Berberabe, Mikka Cacho, Monique del Carmen, Andrea Tongco, and Camille Nolasco.
The Philippines is with Kazakhstan in Group B along with Hong Kong, and world power and two-time Asiad gold medalist, Japan.
Against the taller Kazakhs, Aquino said the team needs to rely on its quickness and outside shooting.
“We have to have a strong start and control the tempo of the game. They are taller than us, so we have to take advantage of our speed and grit,” Aquino said. (ABS-CBN News)