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Sports

SBP rallies behind Gilas gals

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines —  SBP executive director Sonny Barrios yesterday called on Filipino fans to throw their full support behind the Gilas women’s team shooting for its first-ever gold medal in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to break a long-standing jinx.

Barrios, SBP director of operations Butch Antonio, SBP lawyer and FIBA Legal Commission chairman Aga Francisco and SBP Coaches Academy head Joseph Uichico attended the Gilas women’s practice last Tuesday to show the federation’s all-out backing.

“Not to oversimplify things but I told the team there will be only three games to play in women’s 5x5 in the SEA Games,” said Barrios. “It’s a single round-robin format with no semifinals or final. Only four teams are involved – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. If there are 40 minutes in a game, that means they play only 120 minutes or two hours to give it all they’ve got. Todo-bigay na’to. Of course, it extends to a lot more hours of preparation, a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. But to go for the gold, it means playing all-out every game. There will be no playoffs in case of a tie. If it’s a two-way tie, the rule is winner-over-the-other. If it’s a three-way tie, you compute for the quotients. That’s why I advised the team if they’re ahead by 30, don’t relax, keep on pushing the lead because you’ll never know if the quotient system will come into play.”

The Gilas women’s team opens its campaign against Indonesia at the MOA Arena on Dec. 5. Then, it’s Malaysia on Dec. 8 and Thailand on Dec. 10.

“Our women’s team needs all our support,” said Barrios. “Let’s gather as one nation to cheer them. They’re hoping to make history by winning our first-ever gold medal. I was allowed by SBP president Al Panlilio to join our women’s team at the pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Asia and Oceania in Auckland a few weeks ago and had the chance to cheer for our team. We weren’t expected to win the championship and we were clobbered. But as I told our team, the bigger goal is to win gold in the SEA Games. The best way to prepare is to play against better teams so you improve. The Auckland experience was a perfect example. For the moment, our focus is the SEA Games, nothing else.”

In Auckland, the Philippines was blasted by New Zealand, 111-54, South Korea, 114-75 and China, 127-49. Against Korea, the Philippines’ Jack Animam suffered a fractured right cheekbone from an elbow and had to stay behind for medical observation while her teammates returned home. Animam arrived last Tuesday and women’s coach Pat Aquino said she’ll play in the SEA Games wearing a mask. Animam will play in the 3x3 and 5x5 events in the SEA Games.

“Jack is vital to our championship hopes,” said Barrios. “It’s doble trabaho for her because she’s playing in both 3x3 and 5x5. She was asked to stay a few more days in Auckland for observation because we didn’t want her to be at risk, considering the cheekbone is close to her eye. But now that she’s back, we’re hoping she’ll be ready for the SEA Games.” The 3x3 competitions end on Dec. 2 while the Gilas women’s 5x5 team begins action on Dec. 5 so there will be a rest period in between.

The Gilas women’s 3x3 team is made up of Animam, Clare Castro, Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos. The Gilas women’s 5x5 squad is composed of Animam, Castro, Bernardino, Pontejos, Kelli Hayes, Chack Cabinbin, Gemma Miranda, Andrea Tongco, Khate Castillo, Danica Jose, Ria Nabalan and Eunique Chan.

“We’re heavy favorites to win the gold medal in 5x5 and 3x3 men’s basketball,” said Barrios. “Not to sound cocky but we should win both golds in the men’s events with our PBA players. I’m not familiar with the 3x3 women’s teams of other countries but I know we’ve got a fighting chance to win the gold.”

In women’s 3x3, the participating countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Competing in men’s 3x3 are Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. In women’s 3x3, the participating countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Battling in men’s 5x5 are Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

AGA FRANCISCO

BUTCH ANTONIO

SONNY BARRIOS

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