Gilas women try to avoid last-place finish, play India
MANILA, Philippines – After a winless group phase campaign, Gilas Pilipinas women shoots for the next possible prize against also-ran India in a vital relegation match to retain its place in the Division A of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.
Action kicks off at 12 a.m. Saturday (Manila time) at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan with the survivor dodging a last-place finish and a relegation to the Division B of the continental tilt.
Both squads got dragged into the seventh to eighth classification duel after finishing bottom in their groups with listless 0-3 slates.
Gilas bowed to China, 143-52, Australia, 120-56, and recently Chinese Taipei, 93-52, in Group B while India succumbed to Japan, 136-46, South Korea, 107-69 and New Zealand, 109-49, in Group A.
It will be an explosive rematch for both squads after figuring in a similar relegation game in the 2019 edition held India, where Gilas bested the host with a 92-78 win to stay in Division A.
This time though, coach Pat Aquino and the undersized Gilas brace for a tougher challenge.
"This will be very tough. I think India brought some tall players this time, and I brought some small players so it's gonna be very tough," Aquino said as Gilas troops into battle without anchors Jack Animam and Kelli Hayes.
“It's a matter of execution and adjustment. I think the players that we brought in have already experienced how to play here and maybe they'll bring their A-game. I hope we'll be competitive,” he added.
Afril Bernardino, who erupted for 24 points and 14 rebounds against Chinese Taipei early yesterday, spearheads the Gilas’ attack once again with the support of Janine Pontejos, Camille Clarin and Ella Fajardo.
Meanwhile, reigning champion Japan and China advanced to the semifinals after topping their groups. They will face the winner in the knockout playoffs between Australia and New Zealand, and South Korea and Chinese Taipei.
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