Gilas Pilipinas Women team will have a gaping hole at the middle when it sees action in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup starting 26 June at the Sydney Olympic Park in Australia.
Gilas head coach Patrick Aquino confirmed that Clare Castro will not be around to patrol the paint for the Filipinas in this crucial continental tournament.
A mainstay of the national team program, the 6-foot-5 Castro has yet to report for training for the past couple of weeks due to personal and family matters.
Aquino admitted that time is no longer on their side so they have no choice but to move on without one of their tallest and toughest defenders.
“I don’t think she’ll be able to make it,” Aquino told Daily Tribune in a telephone interview.
With Castro around, Gilas Women won three titles in the Southeast Asian Games.
She was part of the 3×3 and 5-on-5 teams that reigned supreme in the 30th SEA Games in Manila as well as the 5-on-5 squad that emerged victorious in the 31st edition of the Games in Hanoi.
She was also part of the team that ruled the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Women’s Championship in 2016 and was in the roster when the Nationals settled for silver in the recent biennial meet in Phnom Penh.
Her absence will be a big blow to the national cagebelles as the Asia Cup serves as a qualifying tourney for the Paris Olympics next year.
The top four teams will secure slots in the Summer Games.
Without Castro, veteran Jack Animam has to work doubly hard while Mikka Cacho and Angel Surada have to step up to fill the huge void on the defensive end.