After SEA Games, work cut out for Gilas men, women – rezal404

Coach Pat Aquino (left) and the Gilas Pilipinas women are staying positive after a silver finish in the SEA Games.  —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Ariya Kurniawan

Coach Pat Aquino (left) and the Gilas Pilipinas women are staying positive after a silver finish in the SEA Games. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Ariya Kurniawan

The Philippines saw its two-edition rule in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women’s basketball competition come to an end last Sunday.

But while national coach Pat Aquino was grateful and proud that his charges managed to salvage a silver medal, he also knew that such an outing was not going to cut it for the battles ahead.

“We will resume preparing on Monday at Aero Center (in Quezon City),” the concurrent program director told the Inquirer on Friday.

Gilas Women now turns its sights to the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Women’s Asia Cup where it grouped with heavyweights Japan and host Australia in the tournament that dangles a qualification spot to the 2026 World Cup in Berlin, Germany.

The continental showcase unfurls on June 26 at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Center with Aquino looking to find and fill the gaps in his crew’s game in the days between then and now.

“We’ll get our experiences [in Phnom Penh] and see what kind of advantage—and disadvantages—we have going into the cup,” he said.

With the way it fared in the biennial meet, Gilas has his work cut out for itself in camp. The Philippines lost to Indonesia, a Division B-ranked nation in the Fiba ladder, eventually dooming the team’s bid for a three-peat in Phnom Penh.

European camps

But Aquino is banking on positivity.

“We learned a lot from this and we hope to get to use (those lessons) on the next,” he said.

Meanwhile, the men’s team has also begun plotting for the World Cup, which the country hosts 97 days from now.

Chot Reyes said that the program will reconvene by June 1 and brace for a slew of training camps across Europe.

Reyes, fresh from steering Gilas Men back to the SEA Games gold, is hopeful that this build-up—unlike many of his previous campaigns—will be free of manpower woes.

“All of the tournaments all over the world are going to be on hold [so] there’s not going to be any kind of conflict with any other tournaments anywhere,” he said.

Reyes said the national program has been reconnecting with players based overseas, including Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson, who is expected to fill the naturalized spot for the global meet.

“We are not picking the best talent. We’re picking the best team—putting the best team together,” he pointed out. “We’re not putting a group of superstars [together]. We want to pick [players for] the best team.”

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