Gilas Pilipinas Women will be undersized when it competes in the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup beginning on Monday in Amman, Jordan.
The Philippines, which has an average height of 5-foot-8, will go up against China (avg height: 6-foot-1), Australia (5-foot-11), and Chinese Taipei (5-foot-9) in the group stages.
That is why a huge responsibility lies on the shoulders of 6-foot-4 Clare Castro – the only legit center in this batch of Gilas Women.
“Meron po talagang pressure kasi I’m the only one na matangkad sa team,” the 24-year-old product of Far Eastern University said.
Since graduating from FEU, Castro has been one of the rocks of the Philippine Women’s National Basketball Team. She along with the likes of 6-foot-2 Jack Animam, 6-foot Kelli Hayes, and 6-foot Danica Jose composed the big man rotation of the Patrick Aquino-mentored squad.
However, Animam could not join the team due to her commitment to Serbian club Radnički Kragujevac while Hayes could not come back home due to quarantine restrictions.
But instead of backing down from facing the likes of Australia’s Bec Allen; China’s duo of Li Yueru and Han Xu; and Chinese-Taipei’s Tsai Peichen, Castro plans to relish each and every game against them.
“Lahat naman po ng teams nakaka-excite kalaban. Kasi sila po yung tough teams sa level na ‘to,” continued Castro, who plays for WNBL team Paranaque.
Thin will be the frontline rotation of the national team as after Castro, backing her up are 5-foot-7 Ann Pingol and 5-foot-7 Mar Prado – both natural power forwards. If worse comes to worst, natural swingman Ria Nabalan, who stands at 5-foot-7, will be the team’s center.
That is why for Castro, it will be important for her to be on the floor at all times, avoiding unnecessary fouls while still bodying up against the giants of the continent.
“Gusto ko lang po maka-contribute sa team at magawa yung pinapagawa ng coaches sa akin.”