A week after the 31st Southeast Asian Games, Patrick Aquino immediately called Gilas Pilipinas Women back to practice.
Despite winning gold in the women’s 5-on-5 tournament, Gilas did not make the podium in the 3×3 event — which was “disappointing” for Aquino.
But this time around, Aquino wants to bounce back in the biggest of stages — the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup in Singapore from July 6-10.
“We started a week after Vietnam. We know that this is important because it’s also the qualifying tournament for the World Cup,” he said.
“We ‘regrouped’ after our disappointing performance in Vietnam. We try to find a composition that will fit this event.”
Gilas will have to go through the qualifying draw that has Thailand and Jordan just to get into the tournament proper.
That is Aquino’s schedule in the morning for the past month.
In the afternoon, the Gilas Women’s program director shifts his attention to the Girls’ Under-16 team.
The 2022 FIBA Women’s Under-16 Asian Cup is the first time the country is sending a representative to the tournament after 11 years.
And seeing the country back excites him.
“It’s very important to be part of the youth program. It’s important in our search for future Gilas members and will also help in our points.
“Overall, it’s very exciting to have a youth women’s program so we have representation in every FIBA competition,” the multi-titled tactician said.
Composing the under-16 team are nine Filipino-Americans who will be huge parts of the Gilas program moving forward. These are 6-foot-1 Samantha Medina (Medowdale High School), 6-footer Gabriella Ramos (Clovis East), 5-foot-11 Emaleena Elson (Portola), 5-foot-9 Kristan Yumul (Oxnard), 5-foot-9 Sierra Patricio (Bill Crothers), 5-foot-8 Hannah Lopez (Denmark), 5-foot-8 Kailah Oani (St. Joseph), 5-foot-7 Ryan Nair (Woodcreek), and 5-foot-4 Naomi Panganiban (La Jolla Country Day).
“I love the composition of the team. Through Fil-Am Nation and Coach Cris Gopez, the collaboration is just a spark that we can do better and be bigger,” he said.
“We hope to sustain this connection so that we can find more talent not just in the States but also locally so the kids will inspire them to play basketball.”
Though the schedule is tough, Aquino is just grateful that women’s basketball is finally getting its share of the limelight.
After all, it’s about time they do.
“I would like to thank the SBP, especially president Al Panlilio, for supporting us. Hopefully, we continue in doing this and to make the country proud.”