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Asiad-bound Gilas girls off to South Korea

‘She was still trying to get her rhythm, but she’s getting much better now.’

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FIBA | KHATE Castillo, Afril Bernardino, Jack Animam, Chak Cabinbin and Janine Pontejos are all pumped up as Gilas Pilpinas Women’s team opens its AVC Women’s Asia Cup campaign against Australia on Monday.

While the entire nation was glued to Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the FIBA World Cup Friday, the country’s women’s team slipped to South Korea to compete in the Park Shin-Ja Cup.

The Filipinas are using this Korean tournament as part of their build up for the coming Asian Games women’s basketball tournament in Hangzhou, China from 23 September to 8 October.

This will be Gilas Women first ever participation in the quadrennial meet and Aquino believes the experience competing in high-level competitions had helped the squad all along.

The Philippines is bracketed in Group B with the Eneos Sunflowers, once a dynasty in the Women’s Japan Basketball League. It will also take on three other teams from the Korean Basketball League: The KB Stars, Hana 1Q and BNK Sum, which finished runner-up to WoorinBank.

Woori Bank leads the cast in Group A which also includes Toyota Antelopes; Australian National Basketball League team Bendigo Spirit, and local teams Samsung Life and Shinhan Bank.

Gilas Pilipinas Women coach Patrick Aquino welcomed the return of Khate Castillo, one of the key players in the national team program who was a consistent performer for the team in the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games and the FIBA Asia Cup.

Aside from Castillo, also making their comeback are Stephanie Berberabe and Trina Guytingco.

They will join mainstays Jack Animam, Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Gabi Bade and naturalized player Malia Bambrick.

According to Aquino, Bambrick, a player from Long Beach State, is getting much better now after playing her first tournament in nearly a year in the just-concluded William Jones Cup tournament.

“She was still trying to get her rhythm, but she’s getting much better now,” Aquino told Daily Tribune in a telephone interview.

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