Gilas 3×3 Women’s has become a part of the growing list of Philippine representatives who struck gold in the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Monday.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Filipinas feel delighted to have given their fellow countrymen something to celebrate. But capturing the championship was more than just bringing glory to the country.
“With this gold medal, ma-recognize naman ‘yung mga hard work ng mga girls,” asserted Nationals chief tactician Pat Aquino, who also coaches the UAAP powerhouse National University Lady Bulldogs.
“And we’re just so proud of them — all their hard work, all their sacrifices. Sobra-sobra ‘yung love nila for basketball talagang para sa bayan.”
The quartet of Clare Castro, Jack Animam, Janine Pontejos, and Afril Bernardino had no shortage of brilliance throughout the tournament. The four dropped just a single match in a span of two days. It was a stellar campaign that proves itself just a microcosm of the quality of women’s basketball in the Philippines.
But despite being under the sun for everyone to see, the distaff side of basketball in a country that treats the sport as a religion remains cloaked in the eminence of the men’s brand of basketball.
So, the Filipinas hopes that their recent success in the biennial meet would be the catalyst that will open the eyes of the public.
“Siguro naman makikilala na ‘yung women’s basketball sa nagawa namin,” said the 27-year-old Pontejos.
And the battle continues for the Filipinas.
“So mas gagalingan pa namin, pipilitin naming makuha ‘yung gold sa five [versus] five para wala na silang masabi sa amin.”