Women’s basketball club team Discovery Pilipinas finished in second place in the Andersen Air Force Base March Madness, a Pacific-wide basketball tournament in Guam. The Philippine squad put up a gallant fight before falling to the US Army Garrison Humphreys in the final.
Discovery is composed of former national team pool members Mix Bautista, Rica Francisco, Angeli Gloriani, Dinn Yamamoto, Alicia Mendez, Denise Tiu, MJ Galicia, April Siat, and Banjo Soriano, Enderun Colleges guard Camille Padilla, and new recruit Ella Rodriguez of Walnut High School.
It was the squad’s first invitational tournament since the Basketball Thailand Super League last year.
“Yung local teams like Andersen and Guam, very organized din sila and they have been together for a while. Siyempre yung team natin, medyo yung ceiling, mababa. Noong championship, lumabas yung disadvantage natin,” head coach Haydee Ong, who also handled the Perlas Pilipinas national team in the past, said.
Discovery finished with a 4-1 card in the elimination round, picking up wins over Team Fuetsa (58-42), Sea Hawks-Guam (83-34), Andersen AFB Bombers (55-54), and Tooth Fairies-Guam (60-54). The lone loss came against eventual champion Camp Humphreys (52-33).
The Andersen AFB Bombers, the defending champions, defeated Discovery in the first phase of the semi-finals, 70-66 to relegate the Philippines side to the loser’s bracket, but Discovery was able to repeat over the Tooth Fairies to stay alive.
Camp Humphreys then edged Andersen AFB in the winner’s bracket of the semi-finals, sending the Bombers to a knock-out match against Discovery. Discovery won in its third showdown with the Bombers, 57-56 although fell to Camp Humphreys in the final.
Discovery battled a tough stretch, played nine games in a six-day span, including two matches the day before the final. The team also lost Siat in the semi-finals to a minor knee injury, but managed to squeak past the defending champions.
Overall, Ong says it was “a very good experience for the team.”
“Yun nga lang, the first day we arrived, may game na eh. Tapos, the next two days, tig-two games. Medyo mabigat yun pero happy ako sa performance ng girls,” she said.
Ong added Discovery’s opponents were impressed by the quality play put up by the squad, saying their opponents even mistook Discovery for a high school team due to its relatively smaller height average.
“Sabi pa nung organizers sa amin, they were surprised sa quality ng team. Kasi nga ang liliit namin, sabi pa nila high school team eh. So nagulat sila, they said we play good basketball. Bilib sila sa mga Pinay,” she said.
Discovery will have a short break to recover before plunging back to regular training. The team is also looking forward to join more invitational tournaments this year.
“Sana meron pa (this year). Yung Discovery naman, tuloy lang siya, may clinics pa rin kami. Kapag may invitationals, like this one, ang dami naming na-me-meet na teams and they are happy na mayroon palang ganito sa Philippines na nagkakaroon ng invitationals where they can travel din.”