The Gilas Pilipinas Women 3×3 team’s quest for a podium finish in the women’s 3×3 basketball tournament of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games got off to a good start.
They finished second in group A with a 2-1 record at the end of the preliminary stage of the tournament on Saturday in Cambodia.
The team dropped a 21-19 heartbreaker in overtime against the 2022 silver medalists Vietnam to open the tournament.
Vietnam got off to a hot start before the Philippines fought their way back behind Mikka Cacho’s strong drives to the hoop. From there, it was a tight game all the way to the end. Down by one point near the end of regulation, Jack Animam was able to hit a shot in the paint to send the game to an extra period. In OT, Vietnam managed to score on a 2-pointer that ended the game and gave them the win.
The Philippines bounced back in their next game. Facing a smaller Laos team, Animam and Afril Bernardino dominated the paint to lead Gilas to a 21-6 win. The two combined for 15 of the team’s total score.
Gilas pounded the ball inside to Animam where she got easy buckets over her smaller defender. When Animam rested, they leaned on Bernardino, who used her skill and size to get points in the paint. Defensively, Gilas was quicker to the ball. They managed to get in the middle of passing lanes forcing several turnovers.
The Philippines led by as much as 16 points, 17-1, before ending the game with more than three minutes left on the clock.
Gilas ended the preliminary round with a convincing 14-8 win over Thailand. It was a supreme defensive effort for the Philippines as they held the 2022 gold medalists to single-digit scoring in the game. Bernardino led the way with seven points, while Janine Pontejos contributed four.
Women’s team mainstays Animam, Bernardino, and Pontejos teamed up to give their team an early lead. They each scored two points to rush ahead, 6-2. Thailand was able to cut the deficit down to just one point, 9-8, but Gilas went on a 5-0 finishing run behind Bernardino’s fearless drives to put the game away.
Gilas moves on to the semifinals of the tournament, happening tomorrow, May 7. They face the home team, Cambodia, who finished at the top of group B.