Gilas Pilipinas Women gun for semis berth in FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup
Published on March 30, 2024

The Gilas Pilipinas Women, big in talent and bigger in heart, continued to exceed expectations in the FIBA 3X3 Asia Cup 2024, blasting their way through the main draw and advancing to the knockout quarterfinals against Chinese Taipei on Sunday, March 31 at the Singapore Sports Hub.

The Philippines has won its first five assignments – three in the qualifying round and two in the preliminaries – to make it to the round of 8 versus an opponent which dragged China into overtime in the main draw before bowing 11-9 on Good Friday, March 29. A victory earns either team passage to the semifinal round.

Following dominant wins over Tahiti (21-3), Maldives (19-11) and Kazakhstan (21-12) in the qualifying draw, the Filipino cagebelles were primed for crucial preliminary round matches against Mongolia and Malaysia.

And they didn’t disappoint.

Behind the 11 points of Jhazmin Joson, who buried four beyond-the-arc 2-pointers, and the strong rebounding of Kaye Pingol and Camille Clarin, who had six each, Gilas Pilipinas downed touted Mongolia 19-8 for its fourth consecutive win. Pingol added 5 points in the effort which saw Nationals opening a 5-0 lead and never looking back.

It was 10-3 at the 5-minute mark and 17-7 with 2:06 left on Pingol’s double. Joson’s free throw sealed the win with 13 seconds remaining.

The game against Malaysia basically went through the same route.

Racing to a 5-1 lead, the Philippines, behind a more balanced scoring, gained some separation halfway through for a comfortable fifth straight win 17-10 and a ticket to the knockout round.

Joson had 6 points, Cacho and Pingol each had 4 and Clarin 3 with 6 rebounds. Pingol and Joson grabbed 4 caroms apiece.                                                                                                                                            

Misfiring on 6 of 7 two-pointers, the Gilas Women turned on the heat within the rainbow arc, going 15 of 26 from inside as the Malaysians committed 13 turnovers, 8 more than the Filipinas, providing Gilas more possessions.

Eric Altamirano, Gilas Women head coach and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas 3X3 program chief, underscored the importance of what lies directly ahead for Gilas.

“We’re thrilled with our victories against the tough and experienced teams from Mongolia and Malaysia,” said Altamirano. “Now, our focus shifts to Chinese Taipei, who put up a strong fight against China in the main draw. It’s time to maintain our focus and give it our all in the upcoming match in the quarterfinals.”

Gilas Women assistant coach Mark Solano bared the Nationals were extra motivated going to the Mongolia game.

“When we were preparing for our game vs the Mongolians, the (PH) ladies were all pumped up especially when they learned that there are two Olympians on that team,” said Solano. “It added fuel to their fire. Kaya nung pag-check ball pa lang and we blazed into a 5-0 start, the ladies never looked back. Doon nagulat din ang Mongolia with our speed, toughness and yung pagiging pesky natin sa defense. Sobrang big factor din that we are making our 2-pt shots.”

Gilas’ familiarity with the Malaysian style, Solano said, went to the Filipinas’ favor in their next game.

“During the Malaysia game, we knew them already kasi we had a lot of tune-ups with them when they went to Manila,” he said.

All five victories are in the rearview mirror now, however.

Standing in the way of a semifinal appearance for Gilas Pilipinas is Chinese-Taipei, which led China 8-6 late in regulation of their main draw showdown before it went into overtime.

The Taiwanese were then hanging on 9-all with 1:32 remaining in the extra period but China came through with a basket and a free throw down the stretch to savor the tough win.

“As we prepare for Chinese Taipei, we told the ladies to just stick to what we are doing, the process of what we are doing,” Solano said of the forthcoming knockout game. “We’re going to have some adjustments kaya non-stop scouting kami ng mga coaches.”