If Gilas Men is having a tough time with its roster for the 19th Asian Games, imagine the challenges Gilas Women are facing on their road to Hangzhou.
Gilas Women’s program director, Patrick Aquino, has had a challenging past two weeks filling not only the roster for the 5-on-5 team but also the Under-23 3×3 squad.
“We’ve had a lot of bumps on the road,” Aquino told Tiebreaker Times.
To begin with, the 5-on-5 team underwent several changes. Collegiate players like Kacey Dela Rosa and Tin Cayabyab were unable to join the team. Then there was the passport situation of Malia Bambrick, a 5-foot-10 forward from Long Beach State who has yet to obtain her Philippine passport.
Aquino is now left with Jack Animam, Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Khate Castillo, Katrina Guytingco, Andrea Tongco, Mikka Cacho, Chack Cabinbin, Monique Del Carmen, Louna Ozar, and Camille Nolasco.
However, the challenges don’t end there. Due to the International Olympic Committee’s desire to distinguish 5-on-5 and 3×3 as separate sports, national teams in the Asian Games cannot field players who will also participate in the 3×3 tournament.
Camille Clarin and Angel Surada were initially on the squad but withdrew. The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is now awaiting clearance from the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee to confirm whether Marga Villanueva and Cielo Pagdulagan can replace them.
Meanwhile, Ozar and Nolasco are still waiting for clearance to determine whether they can be exempted due to the manpower issues that Gilas Women are facing.
Nevertheless, Aquino remains optimistic about the situation. After all, Philippine women’s basketball is making a return to the continental meet for the first time since 1998.
“It always comes in perspective kung ano yung meron diyan. But I’m just so proud of these girls who stepped up and fill the spots of those who can’t join the team,” he said.
“You can’t say anything about them since they are not turning down our country.