Though saddened with the news that Perlas Pilipinas was excluded from the Asian Games this year, national women's coach Patrick Aquino is eager to do the talking on the court as they shoot for a medal when the country hosts the Southeast Asian Games in November 2019.
Aquino, a multi-titled UAAP women's basketball coach, admitted the Perlas squad still retains a solid core that could compete for the SEA Games medal before an expected hometown crowd next year.
"I will try to keep the same core of the team though we will evaluate everybody and see who are still okay, maybe bring in new ones for the future of Perlas," Aquino told ESPN5 on Friday.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) did not include Perlas in the list of the Philippine contingest that will participate in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.
Aquino though felt the Asian Games would have provided a great avenue for Perlas to play in a high-level tournament considering there's no women's competitions in the country.
In the same breath, the 47-year-old head coach felt they could still stand toe-to-toe with some of Asia's best after retaining its position at Level I following its win over North Korea in the FIBA Asia Cup in India last year.
Aquino, who guided the National U Lady Bulldogs to a UAAP women's four-peat title last year, said the position at Level 1 is proof of the players' commitment and hardwork as they are currently in the company of women's basketball powerhouse countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei and perennial SEA Games rival Thailand.
"We're sad and disappointed," shared Aquino. "We just wished we were given a chance to play in the Asian Games because we felt our efforts for the last three years (to stay in Level 1) had gone to waste."
"Although we failed to win the gold medal in the SEA Games last year, we're still in Level 1 in Asia," he added. Since the Manila SEA Games is still over a year away, Aquino said he'll be asking long-time Perla Pilipinas backer Dioceldo Sy to provide an avenue for the national women's squad to train early.
Aquino recently handled the Perlas side that competed in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.