Saturday , July 13 2024

U18 squad eyes sweep for promotion, redemption

Gabby Ramos against Indonesia defenders Fiba U18 Women's Asia Cup Seaba Qualifiers

Gabby Ramos against Indonesia defenders Fiba U18 Women’s Asia Cup Seaba Qualifiers. –FIBA BASKETBALL

Gilas Pilipinas is back in the Fiba U18 Women’s Asia Cup and will be shooting for redemption—and Division A promotion—nearly two years after a heartbreaking loss that had the squad settling for third place.

The young Nationals, coached by longtime women’s program mentor Julie Amos, arrived in Shenzhen, China, on Saturday (Manila time). Still sore from a friendly with the La Salle Lady Archers and a long trip from the airport to the Chinese city, they immediately rolled their sleeves and got to work, eager to erase the heartaches of the past.

“Even though coming from an early flight, we were able to rest a bit and get back to training,” Amos told the Inquirer. “We had our first training today at 2 p.m. and [we hope to do it tomorrow] 2 p.m. again before June 24.”

The Philippines’ path will first go through the Maldives, a side they picked apart with methodical precision in their last meeting, 110-28, in the previous edition of the tournament held in Bangalore, India.

The clash is set at 4:30 p.m. at Futian Sports Park with the likes of Naomi Panganiban, Gabriella Ramos, and Tiff Reyes expected to match their strong showing during the Asia Cup qualifiers in Thailand last May.

2022 heartache

Amos noted her charges’ zest but knows all too well that it will all be for naught without the proper mindset.

“We all know that this will be a tough competition. And for us to be able to win, to face all [sorts of] adversities, we have to be ready mentally and physically,” she said. “Being resilient and determined is what [we need to do] in this tournament. The girls are excited and ready.”

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Gilas is also slotted with Syria and Lebanon in Group B.

The Philippines was on track to reach the you-or-me finale during the 2022 showcase, but ran into a tough-as-nails Malaysian side that prevailed in overtime, 66-65. Gilas, then starred by the likes of Kate Bobadilla, Kristian Yumul, and Louna Ozar, played Samoa to wind up in third place.

A sweep of the Shenzhen showcase will finally send the Philippines to Division A, where continental powerhouses China, Japan and Australia compete.

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