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Pinay cagers begin historic Asiad quest

Gilas Pilipinas women’s basketball team looks to make a good introduction in its maiden campaign in the 19th Asian Games against Kazakhstan on Wednesday at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium.

The Patrick Aquino-mentored squad marches into Group B action at 5:30 p.m., hoping to replicate the rousing start of its men’s counterpart last Tuesday.

The Filipino cagebelles are facing the tough, highly-physical Kazakhs in a major tournament for the first time in six years since Gilas’ promotion to Division A of FIBA Asia.

Aquino is banking on utilizing the experience Gilas gained from competing in the William Jones Cup and the Korean Basketball Invitational tournament where they played against professional club teams from the KBL, Japan and Australia.

“They’re definitely a big help for us,” Aquino told Daily Tribune.

“At least we got the feel of getting more familiar with some of the teams we’re going to face in the Asian Games and players who will be taking part here.”

Veteran Jack Animam, Afril Bernardino, Mikka Cacho and Katrina Guytingco are leading the charge for Gilas, who are hoping to get good result to make up for the disappointing withdrawal of their 3×3 team.

Gilas was forced to pull out from participating in what could’ve been their first ever 3×3 Asiad stint after organizers prevented the team from replacing two of its players.

The Filipinas will face Hong Kong on Friday before closing their elimination round campaign against 2018 edition’s bronze medalist Japan on Sunday.

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