The Gilas Pilipinas women's team is now preparing for the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021 in their training bubble in Batangas.
The Gilas Women, coached by Pat Aquino, will be one of eight teams competing in Division A. They were grouped with Australia, China, and Chinese Taipei in the tournament that is set for September 27 to October 3 in Amman, Jordan.
"It's good that we can finally start working together," said Aquino.
The team is currently staying at the JET Hotel, while their practices are held at the Summit Point Golf & Country Club, both in Lipa, Batangas.
The core of the team that won the 2019 Southeast Asian Games are still set to play in the Asia Cup: Afril Bernardino, Chack Cabinbin, Khate Castillo, Clare Castro, Ria Nabalan, Janine Pontejos, Mar Prado, and Andrea Tongco.
They are joined by Kristin Cayabyab, Karl Ann Pingol, Camille Clarin, and Ella Fajardo.
Jack Animam will be unable to join as she is preparing for her first season of professional basketball with Radnički Kragujevac in Serbia.
"During these times, it's a luxury to be able to focus on basketball, and that's why the team is thankful for this opportunity to practice in a safe environment," Aquino said.
"We have all the amenities we need, from the gym to the basketball court and even a pool," he noted. "So we're all excited to put in the work. We have not been together as a team for a while now so this is a chance for us to rebuild our chemistry with each other."
Gilas will be taking on China on September 27, Australia on September 28, and Chinese Taipei on September 29.
The top four teams from this competition will have the chance to qualify for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 in Australia.
"The continued growth of women's basketball in the country is one of the pillars of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and this is why the federation along with our partners will do everything we can to support our Gilas Pilipinas Women," said SBP special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio.
"Under the leadership of SBP president Al Panlilio and our program director and head coach Pat Aquino, our Gilas Pilipinas Women have grown by leaps and bounds already. Competing in Division A is proof of that and so was the double gold-medal haul in the last SEA Games," said Butch Antonio, SBP deputy executive director.
"The pandemic has presented a unique challenge but the SBP is confident that our team will do the very best they can to represent the country in Jordan," he added.