Pat Aquino, head coach of the Gilas women’s basketball team, couldn’t hide his emotions when he showed up at the media interview together with his two key players, Jack Animam and Afril Bernardino after the Filipina cagebelles captured the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal in the 30th South East Asian Games.
Playing before the biggest crowd ever in the team’s history, the cagebelles responded with a masterful 91-71 victory over Thailand.
“When we had a breakout in the third quarter, I thought it was ours already. The team was playing as a team at both ends of the court, everyone was helping one another all throughout,” said Aquino.
Named by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as the project director for women’s basketball tasked to grow the sport, Aquino is already looking to the future of women’s basketball, saying FIBA is the next stop for the team.
“Sana tuluy tuloy na ito at mabigyan na talaga ng pansin ang women’s basketball dito, gapang kami dito since 2015. Mabuti nakabiyahe kami a few months ago sa Jones Cup, malaking tulong ‘yun. Pero ang problema is sustaining the gains we made in the SEA Games,” added Aquino.
Foremost in his mind is to be able to put up a women’s basketball league. He believes that with the women’s gold-medal finish, sponsors will come in and help.
“We really need to establish our own league, this is the way to sustain and grow the sport as the girls can look forward to a basketball-related work after college,” said Aquino.
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