With minor tweaks here and there, Pat Aquino is convinced her spunky Gilas girls have what it takes to topple Malaysia on Saturday in the semifinals of the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Women’s Under-16 Asian Championship.
“we just [have to keep] in doing what we are doing, with little adjustments here and there,” Aquino said on the eve of his horses clashing with the Malays at Prince Hamza Hall in the city of Amman.
“They have shown determination and enthusiasm during the games, and they are competing and, above all, playing with a lot of heart,” he told the Inquirer on Friday.
A win will push the young Filipinos into the title match against Iran or Hong Kong, where the stakes are promotion to the region’s A Division, something Gilas failed to achieve last year despite a similar sweep of 3-0 in the knockout round.
And that’s exactly what Aquino talked about, as he reiterated protecting his players from complacency and making it happen again last year.
“We keep telling them that the three wins we have are nothing if we don’t get the next game,” he continued. Last year, the Philippines fell to a Samoan team that they beat by 29 points in eliminations, a blow to instinct that Aquino doesn’t want to see happen again.
“We just stay focused on the games ahead and don’t worry about what might happen again,” Aquino said.
The Philippines and Malaysia have split their last two meetings in the Asian Championship, with the Filipinos losing the most recent clash by 11 points in 2011.
Aquino said he’s comfortable having two carryovers that keep the team in some sense going into the game.
Ryan Nair and Ava Fajardo, who experienced the shock loss to Samoa firsthand, have been vocal leaders within the Gilas quarters, according to Aquino. His games are testament to that with Nair leading the team in efficiency at 19.3 and Fajardo leading the scoring at 16.3 points per game.
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