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Gilas mainstays top Manila Hustle

Not even the absence of superstar Jack Animam can stop the core of Gilas Women Team in dominating the Manila Hustle Women’s 3×3 International Invitational Tournament over the weekend.

With mainstays Janine Pontejos and Kate Castillo teaming up with Kacey Dela Rosa and Trina Guytingco, the Lady MacBeth Riots rued the tournament as they stamped their class against the finest lady dribblers from countries like South Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Gilas Women head coach Patrick Aquino believes the tourney is a fitting workout for the national squad that will see action in future international events, including the FIBA 3×3 tournament from 29 March to 2 April in Singapore and the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in May.

“This is one of the tournaments that we need in preparation for future international tournaments – both in 3×3 and 5-on-5,” Aquino told Daily Tribune in a telephone interview.

Animam, a double gold medalist in the SEA Games, was set to see action in the Manila Hustle but begged off at the last minute after getting a call up from a French club.

Still, Aquino clarified that Animam remains with the national program.

“Jack is always committed to the national team program, even though she’s in France and will be there for two months,” said Aquino.

A three-time SEA Games gold medalist, Aquino confirmed that Animam will be back in the country on 26 March to rejoin the national squad.

Aquino said he is taking a different approach in a bid to regain the SEA Games title.

“We decided to put in two shooters (Pontejos and Castillo) this time and we believe they’re the best fit for the squad,” added Aquino, who thanked Macbeth, Uratex and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas for supporting them.

“These shooters should be complemented by our big players, Katrina and Jack when he returns. Even Afril Bernardino is still a part of the squad.”

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