GILAS Pilipinas girls’ youth team battles Indonesia as its first assignment in the opener of the 2022 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Under-16 (U16) Women’s Asian Championship Division B in Amman, Jordan.
The Filipina teens play their Southeast Asian neighbors in Pool at 8:45 p.m. (Manila time) before taking on Syria and Samoa in the following days of the tourney that will run until next week.
Gilas needs to finish on top of its group to punch an outright ticket to the semifinals and a ticket to the FIBA U17 Women’s World Cup in Hungary next month.
Otherwise, the Nationals have to go through a qualification phase among second and third-seeded squads to advance to the Final Four, with the bottom squad getting an early boot.
To achieve the mission, Gilas will bank on Ava Fajardo, sister of senior team ace Ella, along with Emaleena Elson, Hannah Lopez, Samantha Medina, Ryan Kelly Nair, Camille Nolasco, Kailah Jade Oani, Naomi Panganiban, Sierra Jade Patricio, Gabriella Ramos, BJ Villarin, and Kristan Yumul.
Pepperdine University women’s basketball assistant coach Brian Rosario will mentor the squad with women’s team head coach and overall program director Pat Aquino overseeing their campaign.
“We are optimistic about our chances. We just started the youth program, but we’re hoping we can deliver. I’m hoping we will do good,” Mr. Aquino told The STAR.
More than making a deep run though, Gilas is out to rule the entire Division B tournament for a promotion in Division A featuring powerhouse youth squads Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and India.
Gilas women, under Mr. Aquino’s watch, last year maintained its Division A status after a seventh place finish in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup also held in Jordan. — John Bryan Ulanday