HANGZHOU, China – History beckons for the Gilas Pilipinas Women when they make their long-awaited debut in the Asian Games on Wednesday.
Looking to give Gilas Women a rude welcome on the continental stage is Kazakhstan, a perennial contender that made the quarterfinal in the last two stagings, in their 5:30 p.m. clash at SX Olympic Stadium.
Gilas coach Pat Aquino stressed the need for the players to keep their focus on the task at hand and not let their emotions get the better of them.
“The girls are excited and ready for their first Asian Games,” said Aquino, the architect behind the success of the women’s team being promoted in Division A of the Fiba Asia Cup and winning the Southeast Asian Games gold in back-to-back fashion.
“But we have to stay focused mentally and physically.”
Veterans Jack Animam and Afril Bernardino will again stand at the forefront in leading the campaign of the team.
The rest of the first-ever Philippine women’s team in the Asiad are Janine Pontejos, Chack Cabinbin, Louna Ozar, Khate Castillo, Katrina Guytingco, Stefanie Berberabe, Mikka Cacho, Monique Del Carmen, Andra Tongco, and Camille Nolasco.
The Philippines is in Group B with Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, and two-time Asiad gold medalist Japan.
Against the taller Kazakhs, Aquino said the team will have to rely on its quickness and outside shooting.
“We have to have a strong start and control the tempo of the game. They are taller than us, so we have to take advantage of our speed and grit,” added Aquino.