Gilas Pilipinas Women’s garnered massive success in the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games.
And Filipina stalwarts Afril Bernardino, Jack Animam, and Clare Castro had their fingerprints all over Gilas’ triumphs, as part of both the 3×3 and five-on-five squads that clinched gold medal just last December.
In an appearance on Tiebreaker Vods’ So She Did!, presented by SMART, the troika looked back on their journey in the biennial event which helped put women’s basketball on a pedestal of Philippine sports.
As a part of the two teams that competed in the SEA Games, Castro, Animam, and Bernardino had to go through two practices in a day. It was also the same scenario when the games started, since they had to play at least three games a day in the 3×3 event and attend practice afterwards for the five-on-five team.
“Sobrang hirap, as in. Sobrang pagod kasi ‘yung training pa lang, nauna kami mag-training ng 3×3 kasi ‘yung training namin, ‘yung regular training, seven to nine. So since kami ‘yung for 3×3, so mag-start kami siguro mga 4:30 or five ganyan, kailangan mauna kami sa gym. And then after non, magte-training pa ulit kami ng isa. Grabe ‘yung pagod,” shared Animam.
“Sobrang nakaka-exhaust siya and pagdating sa game, lalo na sa game — naka-ilang games kami non? Diba isang araw tatlong games, tapos kailangan namin pumunta sa practice. Imbis na dapat magpahinga na kami, pero hindi, kailangan pa namin pumunta sa practice namin kasi may five-on-five pa kami. Grabe talaga ‘yung pinagdaanan namin. Pero it’s all worth it naman.”
But the sacrifice was all worth it for the three as they delivered not one, but two gold medals for the country — including the once-elusive title in five-on-five.
Seeing the amount of support that Filipinos poured on them during the Games, Bernardino and Castro believe that putting up a professional league should be in line to finally give women’s basketball an avenue for life after college.
“Siguro kasi kung ganon din ‘yung suporta nila sa women’s basketball, siguro mas maganda din na magkaroon ng professional league dito for women’s kung ganon din ‘yung crowd na manonood sa amin. Kasi kumbaga ang hanap nila is market, so what if ‘yung mga fan na gusto mag-suporta, pero wala naman tayong program dito sa Pilipinas,” said Bernardino.
“Gustong-gusto namin siyempre kasi after college, wala na.
“RP eh, hindi naman lahat nakakapag-RP eh. Maraming nasasayang na talents kasi walang league after college, saka mas makakatulong ‘yun eh, kasi kapag international games, tulad sa Taiwan, meron silang professional league tapos meron din silang national team. Mas parang mas nag-iimprove nila yung teamwork, mga ganon,” Castro added.