Gilas Women aiming for win vs. India to avoid relegation

Gilas Pilipinas Women will leave it all on the floor in their last game of the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup on Friday. 

“We have to win — that’s the main point. I think the target is to stay in [Division A]. I know it’s really hard, tough games previously but you know we feel that we can play our very best against India,” Gilas Women head coach Patrick Aquino said after the Philippines’ loss to Chinese Taipei. 

After going 0-3 in the group phase, the women’s national team is on the edge of relegation. A loss to India would transfer the Philippines back to Division B. 

“I think with the experience the girls already have after three games, we know we have to adjust and probably do little things more to win the game tomorrow,” Aquino said. 

India is currently ranked 70th in the world and 11th in Asia. It failed to win a game in the 2019 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup but avoided relegation as Division B was not organized at the time. The Philippines defeated India two years ago, 98-72, but Aquino won’t be taking their opponents lightly in the upcoming classification match. 

“I think India brought some tall players this time and I brought some small players this time also,” Aquino said. 

The average height of India in the past two editions of the Asia Cup is 5-foot-9. The difference, however, is that the 2021 team only has one player who is listed at 5-foot-5 compared to three in 2019. The current India squad also boasts a lot of length at the shooting guard and forward positions and they also have two 6-footer centers. The height disparity against opponents, unfortunately, continues to be a prevalent theme for Gilas.

Looking at the stats after three games in the tournament, both India and the Philippines score roughly the same, averaging nearly 54 points each. India has the edge in assists, 13.7 to 7.5, while the Gilas Women shoot better from beyond the arc at 28.8 percent compared to 20.4 percent. 

“It’s gonna be very tough,” Aquino said of the impending matchup between the two teams fighting for the last seat in Division A. “It’s a matter of execution and adjustment on the game tomorrow. I think the players that we brought in have already experienced how to play here and maybe they’ll bring their A-game tomorrow. Just hope that we’ll be competitive.”

As Gilas Women prepare for their last game of the tournament, they aren’t making excuses for the lack of preparation they’ve had coming in. They’ve had to go over the hurdle of practicing in limited time in the face of various circumstances. 

“I know it’s very hard for us coming into the pandemic and coming in here with less preparation but we try to give our very best,” Aquino said. “Thanking the SBP for all the support that they give us and we have to give back so that we’ll be staying here in [Division A].”

The game between the Philippines and India will air live on Friday at 12:00 AM on One Sports and One Sports+.

For more updates on Gilas Women, follow the SBP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To get the latest information on the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021, check out the tournament’s official Facebook page.