Gilas Pilipinas Youth take center stage this week as the Women’s 3×3 team is set to compete in the FIBA 3×3 U17 Asia Cup 2022 in Malaysia.
The quartet of Camille Nolasco, BJ Villarin, Arianna Delos Santos, and Nicole Pring will represent the country in a 3×3 competition for the first time.
“Halos lahat naman medyo bago sa 3×3 so major adjustment talaga,” Gilas Pilipinas Women Director Patrick Aquino said about how the team is adapting to 3-on-3 play. “Sana hindi sila magulat of how 3×3 is really played internationally.”
Nolasco and Villarin have international experience after playing for Gilas Pilipinas Youth U16 and U18 squads. For Delos Santos and Pring, it will be their first taste of competition overseas.
“Slowly they’re getting it,” Aquino said. “Sana makuha nila yung pinapagawa namin… Sabi ko be a sponge na lang and hopefully they can do it. And for a fact, first time nila so talagang mahirap but we’ll try our best talaga.”
Aquino is also hoping that the upcoming 3×3 competition will open more avenues to gain experience in the women’s program.
“I just want to thank our president sir Al Panlilio, executive director Sonny Barrios, and Butch Antonio for giving us these kinds of tournaments. I told them that the youth program or the grassroots program is our pillar going into the senior’s teams.
“Ito na yun eh. Ito na yung mga susunod sa mga yapak nila Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Jack Animam so it’s very important they experience international play all the time.”
The Philippines placed third in the FIBA 3×3 U18 Asia Cup in 2019 and competed in the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup that same year. But since then, the 3×3 program for the women’s youth teams has been put to a halt because of the pandemic. Gilas Women, the seniors team, did compete in the 3×3 basketball event at the Southeast Asian Games earlier this year but failed to win the gold medal.
“We really have to climb up again. Again this is good for us going into the senior’s program,” Aquino said.
The lack of local competition in the high school division for young women also posed a significant hurdle. A new program had to be constructed in terms of recruiting and developing players before preparing them for international play.
“Hindi kulang sa talent pero kulang sa exposure yung mga bata,” Aquino said. “Just really selecting who really can fit and play together.”
Aquino remains optimistic not just about the upcoming 3×3 tournament in Malaysia but for the Gilas Women’s program as a whole.
“I’m glad and happy to have this kind of program being provided for by SBP. Actually, I think in the long run, with these kinds of activities and programs, we’ll be better at the competitions,” Aquino said.
Whether letting him scout for players across the country and abroad, holding tryouts to search for talent, or allowing the players to compete internationally, Aquino is grateful for the opportunity.
For now, Aquino and his team are focused on competing and representing the country at the FIBA 3×3 U17 Asia Cup 2022 in Malaysia.
Gilas Youth take the floor on October 13, facing Hong Kong at 2:50 PM and Thailand at 4:10 PM. The Philippines needs to win the qualification draw in Pool A to advance to the main draw.