A new find in Malia Bambrick will have a chance to suit up for the Gilas Pilipinas Women in the coming Asian Games.
But Bambrick’s Philippine passport needs to be secured first.
Coach Patrick Aquino said this after the Filipino-American forward joined the national squad in practice last week.
“They have to secure her passport first. And this is why I don’t have a final lineup yet,” said Aquino during one of their scrimmages at the Philsports Complex in Pasig City with the Gilas Pilipinas men’s team.
Bambrick joined the Gilas Women in the William Jones Cup women’s tournament in Taiwan recently.
Aquino kept an eye on Bambrick, who is with NCAA Division 1 team Long Beach State University. She previously spent four years at Pepperdine University.
A better campaign is being mapped out for Gilas Women, which will play against the best teams in the region on their maiden appearance since 2010 in the Asian Games in China this September.
“We had our best run in the Asia Cup. Sana maging maganda ang performance namin dito sa Asia Games,” said Aquino.
Last July, Gilas Women placed sixth in the 2023 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, following a 71-80 loss to South Korea.
Before that, the Gilas Pilipinas Women’s U-16 team earned promotion to Division A of FIBA Asia after a comfortable 83-60 victory over Iran in Amman, Jordan.
Meanwhile, Gilas coach Tim Cone said the hard work put in by the Gilas Women to get better should be lauded and emulated.
“I know that we are locked in on the men’s program, but we should also be really proud of the women’s program as well,” said Cone.
The Gilas Women’s team has improved last week from no. 42 in the FIBA women’s world rankings to no. 37.
The rise in the rankings came after their 6th-place finish in the 2023 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, where they beat higher-ranked Chinese Taipei, 92-81, for their only win in five games.
Gilas Women’s hard work has earned them a slot in Group A as they are now behind Asian countries, like world. no. 2 China, Australia (3rd), Japan (9th) and Korea (13th) and Chinese Taipei (33rd).
Cone’s squad practiced with the Gilas women, a week before they play two tune-up games during the homestretch of its short training camp before the Asiad.