Patrick Aquino formally stepped down as assistant coach of Blackwater to concentrate on Gilas Women squad as it seeks to retain the gold medal in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games and other major international tournaments.
Aquino made the confirmation to Daily Tribune, saying that the coming months will be crucial so he had to relinquish his job with the Bossing in the Philippine Basketball Association to focus on the national women’s squad in which he also serves as project director.
Aquino is doing an impressive job in charting the roadmap of the national cagebelles.
As project director, the 51-year-old former University of the Philippines star was able to recruit several Filipino-American players who can help the national squad in the SEA Games and other International Basketball Federation tournaments.
Among his latest recruits were Filipino-American stalwarts Mai-Loni Henson and Ella Fajardo.
Henson is a 6-foot-1 former Washington standout who campaigns professionally in France while the 5-foot-5 Fajardo sees action for Fairleigh Dickinson University in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“I’ll concentrate on Gilas because we are preparing for the Southeast Asian Games and the 3×3 international tournaments as well as other FIBA-sanctioned events,” Aquino, the architect of National University’s 96-game winning streak in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, said.
“But other than that, I’m also the project director of the women’s basketball team so I really need to focus on the program.”
Aquino had been with the Dioceldo Sy-led organization — Ever Bilena — since its days with the defunct Philippine Basketball League until it joined as Blackwater in the professional league.
But two years ago, Ever Bilena pulled out its support from the national women’s squad as it already felt the financial pinch brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aquino, however, made the tough decision of staying with the national team while bidding goodbye to Blackwater.
“In the event that they would need me in the future, then I’m open for it,” Aquino said.
“But for now, I just want to concentrate on the national women’s team program and work here full time.”