After failing to win a single game four years ago, Gilas Pilipinas Women will march with fire in its eyes when it competes in the William Jones Cup at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium in Taipei starting Saturday.
Gilas coach Patrick Aquino said they may have failed to win a game the last time they joined the prestigious invitational tourney in 2019, but it helped them win a pair of gold medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“We didn’t win a single game but it helped us prepare for the SEA Games where we won our first gold medal,” Aquino said.
“Perhaps our previous Jones Cup showing where we nearly beat the powerhouse teams was one of the reasons why we were invited again.”
Aquino said like what they did in 2019, they will be using the Jones Cup to prepare for the 19th Asian Games that will be held in Hangzhou, China from 23 September to 8 August.
He said he is confident that his wards will bounce back strong after making some key additions.
Malia Bambrick, a big shooting guard from Long Beach State, will shore up the front court together with Kacey Dela Rosa.
Bambrick, who played for Pepperdine University, emerged as the school’s second leading scorer, averaging 10 points per game.
Meanwhile, Dela Rosa averaged double-double for Ateneo de Manila University with 16.9 points and 14.4 rebounds. Her entry will make up for the absence of 6-foot-5 Clare Castro, who opted not to join the team’s second straight major international tournament.
Dela Rosa will form a solid combo up front along with main post player Jack Animam as well as Gabi Bade.
“Gabi has been the X-factor for our team when we won the gold medal in the SEA Games last year,” said Aquino, whose team played without a naturalized player in the biennial meet.
Other members of the Gilas squad that will be leaving on Friday for Taiwan are mainstays Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos, guard Stephanie Berberabe, Monique del Carmen, Louna Ozar, Andrea Tongco, Jhazmin Joson and Sofia Roman.