MANILA, Philippines, March 30 ------ A small but terrible Gilas Pilipinas women's 3x3 squad will to fly to Singapore today to compete in the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup, which unfurled Wednesday. Led by head coach Patrick Aquino, Afril Bernardino, Khate Castillo, Janine Pontejos and Clare Castro face the tall task of competing against bigger opponents in pool play as they collide with China and Iran on Saturday.
The event will prepare the team for the upcoming 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia. But the Filipina ballers are still looking to make a splash. "We've been practicing for more than a month na, with Afril coming out of military service... Gumawa na [din] kami ng mga adjustments prior dun sa Manila Hustle [tournament]. It's also the preparation for Southeast Asian Games. So, it's been good," Aquino told Philstar.com. "We saw our disadvantages and advantages. We try to, again, look at this tournament for the Southeast Asian Games so magandang preparasyon and hopefully we can go as far as we can going into the pool play against China and Iran."
Drawn against bigger opponents, Aquino looks to exploit the shooting prowess of his wards in shooting. Even without the length, the decorated tactician knows that there is enough firepower in his players to keep up with their foes. "I think we're the smallest [team] again, because of the two shooters I brought in — Khate and Janine, and then with Afril, and then Clare is yung pinakamalaki," said Aquino. "That's why I brought Clare kasi nga malalaki yung mga kalaban like, especially China, match-up wise, talo tayo but again, talent-wise hindi tayo nagkukulang. With the best two shooters in our country, and Afril, the best versatile player, and Clare, the biggest player we have, I think we have a good chance competing against those teams," he added.
Bernardino mirrored Aquino's competitiveness when it came to the upcoming tournament. Going up against tall odds, she simply plans to stick to Aquino's system and let the results speak for themselves. "Kung ano yung tinuro sa amin ni Coach Pat and yung ako personally, nasa isip ko is gusto namin talunin yung China. Yun muna yung gusto namin isipin for now pagdating namin doon, prepare namin yung sarili namin, mentally, physically. Yung magkaisa lang kami sa court," said Bernardino.
The Philippines will hope to improve on their 14th-place finish in last year's edition of the tournament, which was also held in Singapore.