MANILA, Philippines -- Perlas Pilipinas is banking on its speed and quickness to make up for its lack of height and experience in the 2017 FIBA Asia Women's Cup in Bangalore, India next week.
This marks the first time that the Filipina players under coach Patrick Aquino will be seeing action against the finest women's teams in the region, following their promotion to Level 1 during the 2015 FIBA Women's Asian Championship in Wuhan, China.
However, they are bracing for a tough campaign as they are bracketed in Group B along with South Korea, Australia, and defending champion Japan. The Japanese women are led by Ramu Tokashiki, who plays for the Seattle Storm in the WNBA.
Group A, meanwhile, is composed of New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, North Korea, and China.
Aquino is aware that Perlas Pilipinas will be at a disadvantage as far as experience is concerned, but he hopes that the Filipinas can use their quickness and athleticism to their advantage.
"We’re much faster because we’re smaller. As far as talent is concerned, hindi naman talaga nagkakalayo," the Perlas Pilipinas coach said at the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel.
"But the experience they have 'yun talaga ang malaki (na advantage nila sa atin)."
Veterans Afril Bernardino and team captain Allana Lim will banner the team.
Joining Aquino in the forum were Raiza Palmera-Dy and Camille Sambile.
Perlas Pilipinas leaves for India on July 21.
The team immediately opens its campaign against the reigning champion on July 23 at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, followed by Australia on July 24, and South Korea on July 25.
The top five finishers in the tournament will earn berths to the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Spain.
"Bilog ang bola. Who knows?," said Aquino when asked against the country’s chances of advancing to the world championship.
The FIBA Asia Cup is also being utilized by Perlas Pilipinas for its campaign in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia next month where it will be aiming for a first-ever gold medal.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.