Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio lauded Gilas Pilipinas Women for their performance in the 2019 FIBA Women's Asia Cup as the team overcame early struggles and managed to finish their campaign on a winning note to stay in Division A of Asia/Oceania.
"The mandate of the SBP as often noted by our Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan is to always keep on improving. It could be marginal but as long as we're moving forward then we'll consider it as success," said Panlilio.
"We're proud of the efforts of Gilas Pilipinas Women under the tutelage of coach Patrick Aquino and defeating host team India in the 2019 FIBA Women's Asia Cup in Bangalore is definitely a notable achievement since they will be staying in Division A. The next part of the process now is how to be more competitive against stronger opposition."
Gilas Pilipinas Women opened their campaign with back-to-back blowout losses to Australia and China. The former is the third-ranked team in the world while the latter is at seventh.
The Filipinas had a better showing against New Zealand but they still fell short, losing 75-57.
With their Division A spot on the line, Gilas took on India where they were led by sharpshooter Janine Pontejos who finished with 18 points. Jack Danielle Animam took care of the shaded area with 13 rebounds. The win also gave them a ticket to the Asia/Oceania Pre-Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"Right now it's clear that there's still a lot of work to be done to be a threat to the top six teams in the region but we're confident that we're moving in the right direction with our women's program both in five-on-five and even in 3x3," Panlilio added.
The next order of business is not to prepare for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games as the country is expecting its first ever gold medal in the women's basketball competitions.
"The win against India should only makes our team more confident heading into the Southeast Asian Games. Only Malaysia and Thailand have won golds in the SEA Games but we feel this is the perfect time to win our first," the SBP President said.
"Actually, if you look at what happened in 2017, we were literally a couple of baskets from a gold medal as we lost to eventual gold medalist Malaysia by just four points. We defeated Thailand but lost to Indonesia so we fell into the fourth spot even if we also had 4-2 win-loss tallies like those two countries due to our inferior quotient. With the support of the entire Filipino nation and with our lineup getting additional help from more collegiate standouts after their respective seasons, we're hopeful about our chances."
Gilas Women coach Patrick Aquino said the tournament allowed them to see where they are and what adjustments they need for the SEA Games.
"I'm happy we won and the girls never gave up and worked hard for the win," Aquino told ESPN5 via text from India. "We also saw what we can do and do it right next time. As for the SEA Games, this was a good preparation for us. We found out what we need to improve on and what our strengths are as a team."