After 2nd SEAG gold, Gilas Women inspired to do more for next generation

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2022 12:04 PM | Updated as of May 29 2022 04:05 PM

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The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

The Gilas Pilipinas Women in a meet-and-greet with young players from the Girls Got Game organization on Saturday at the Nike Fort in Taguig. Photo courtesy of GGG

MANILA, Philippines -- The Gilas Pilipinas Women saw firsthand the impact of their achievements on Saturday, when they took part in a special meet-and-greet at the Nike Fort in Bonifacio Global City.

Still on a high after winning a second straight gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games, the Gilas Women met the players whom they have inspired, while the young players of Girls Got Game finally saw their idols in person.

Girls Got Game is a non-profit organization geared towards empowering women through sports, particularly basketball, volleyball, football, and rugby. Their basketball camp, held both virtually and in person, concluded with a tournament, and the prizes for the two finalists included a meet-up with the Gilas Women.

It made for a special afternoon for the national team players as well as the young girls, who received words of advice and encouragement from their idols after expressing their hopes of emulating the Gilas Women's exploits for flag and country.

"Sobrang nakaka-touch ng puso," Gilas veteran Afril Bernardino said of the experience. "Bata pa sila, pero nakaka-boost ng energy namin na sinusuportahan nila kami."

"Pag narinig mo na iniidolo ka ng younger na Pinay baller, parang sobrang nai-inspire ka ulit. Gusto mong ulit-ulitin 'yung ginagawa mo," she added. "Parang 'di nakakapagod. Hindi nakakapagod na maglaro. Parang mas lalo kung nae-enjoy ang paglalaro ko ng basketball."

The young players of GGG, from ages 10 to 14, had maximized their opportunity on Saturday as they not only took selfies with the Gilas Women, but also asked them questions about their basketball journeys and the keys to success in their field.

Among those asked was young Gilas guard Camille Clarin, who was surprised but immensely gratified to see that girls are looking up to them now.

"When I was that young, it was only me and a couple of other people I know," she recalled. "It's great to see that these girls are finally getting the opportunity because a lot of us didn't have that before."

"For them to have this kind of support this young, it means so much for the new generation of basketball," she added.

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Like her senior in Bernardino, Clarin is similarly inspired to reach greater heights with the Gilas Women, as doing so will open more doors for the younger players and show them what they can achieve through sports. 

The Gilas Women have earned their share in the spotlight in the past few years thanks to their golden breakthrough in the 2019 SEA Games at home. Last year, they retained their place in FIBA Asia Division A, and in the Hanoi SEA Games, they were the only basketball team to bring home a gold medal.

"I'm definitely more inspired. It's not really pressure at this point, because I've been doing it for so long. They're just the inspiration for me to keep going," Clarin said. "Sometimes, you feel like it's not worth it anymore, then you remember that there's people just like me growing up and they want the same opportunities."

As special as the event was for the Gilas Women, it was also significant for the young girls of GGG. 

Mariana Lopa, the managing director of the organization, notes that when asked about what they want to be when they grow up, their girls give the usual answers: "The answers we always get are police, teacher, nurse. Kasi 'yan 'yung nakikita nila in their daily lives."

But she is optimistic that seeing the likes of Bernardino, Clarin, Janine Pontejos, Ella Fajardo, and other gold medalists in person will widen their horizons. 

"They think -- 'Oh, I can be that, too.' Then they start to take sports a little bit more seriously," said Lopa.

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A total of 14 players got to meet the Gilas Women on Saturday in the event backed by Nike.

Girls Got Game will resume in the third quarter of the year with a one month module on rugby. For more information, follow Girls Got Game on Instagram.