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Basketball

NAIA MVP Berberabe out to show ‘heart over height’ mindset during Gilas tryouts

Stefanie Berberabe is coming off a stellar junior year with Westmont College. 

During the COVID-hit 2020-21 season, she averaged 17.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. She also led the school to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship.

And she saw her individual stats rewarded, as Berberabe earned the tournament Most Valuable Player along with All-American honors.

And she did all this while standing at just 5-foot-4 and facing the challenges brought about by the ongoing pandemic.

“I mean, honestly, I would not gotten all these accolades without the support of everyone. I couldn’t do it alone.

“Just doing quarantine, I shifted my mindset in controlling the controllable and working real hard. We did not know if we had a season — just staying positive throughout this COVID,” she recalled.

Though the NAIA is not at the same level as the Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the competition though is still tough.

And Berberabe looks to sustain the momentum she has during Gilas Pilipinas Women’s tryouts from June 4-5 in La Verne, California. The tryouts were organized by Fil-Am Nation Select with the help of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

“Obviously NAIA and NCAA are different levels. But as an athlete, you just want to compete,” she said.

“If I was given an opportunity to play for Gilas, it will be a huge honor to represent my Filipino culture. My parents will just be amazed. I will be able to give a lot of heart.”

The tryouts have 12 confirmed attendees, the majority of whom are guards.

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But what Berberabe believes separates her from the pack is the determination she brings in every game.

“Obviously, we are not known to be very tall, but heart over height.

“I can give a lot of hard work, discipline, and focus. I’m known to be speedy on the court and I love defense a lot. I just think that that would be amazing and I’ll work hard for it,” she said.

Currently, Berberabe’s parents are still working on getting her Filipino passport. But with the 31st Southeast Asian Games still months away, she has time on her side.

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