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Sports

Cash-strapped Aklan team takes ro-ro to historic NBTC girls tiff

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Cash-strapped Aklan team takes ro-ro to historic NBTC girls tiff
Aklan-based team One Ibajay is competing in the Smart-NBTC Girls Have Next powered by Fil-Nation Select Tournament
Facebook / NBTC Ibajay Basketball Girls

MANILA, Philippines – There was no stopping Aklan-based team One Ibajay in their mission to expose their players to high-level girls basketball in Smart-NBTC's Girls Have Next currently happening at Pretty Huge in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Faced with the difficult decision of having to travel to Manila via roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ride as plane fares became too expensive for the team to finance, One Ibajay assistant coach Cris Pereira said that the opportunity was too big for his players to miss.

As they are based in the province, Pereira's wards do not get to play in tournaments like these often.

"We really wanted to participate here sa National Basketball Training Centre at saka kaya ginawan talaga namin ng paraan para maka-join kami dito kahit na kinapos na kami ng budget," he told Philstar.com on Thursday before their game against La Salle Antipolo.

"Despite of that, alam naman namin magiging factor yun sa pagod ng mga bata tapos kulang ng tulog, pero di naman that much ano? We believe, kaya nga kami pumunta dito, because the teams are competitive." he added.

Even with a stinging loss to UST in their opening game of the tournament, as they also had to buck exhaustion from the boat ride, Pereira said that he remained proud of what they were able to do so far.

"I told my players not to give up. Just give your all, regardless of how big yung lamang nila, still lumaban kami hanggang dulo. Nakipagtakbuhan sa kanila, nagdepensa kami sa kanila. And that was a very good game for us kasi malaki at marami kaming natutunan because of that first game," he said.

Pereira also pointed to their goal as not just winning games, but the bigger picture of giving their players a platform to showcase their skills.

"’Di kami pumunta dito para sikat kami sa amin, kundi, the main purpose is that para matulungan namin yung mga bata, yung mga players namin. Of course, we all know, ang mga batang probinsya, hindi ganun ka-well off or may mga pera that is why we are here," said the tactician.

Even halfway through the tournament, Pereira said that there has already been optimistic results.

"Fortunately, meron na rin nakipagusap sa amin. That's what we're hoping for. Kahapon, kinausap kami ng University of Santo Tomas, meron silang napusuan at ngayon din, kinausap na din kami ng Adamson University," he said.

"Wala pa namang sinasabi, but they said that meron silang nakikita sa mga players namin," he added.

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