MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine women's national basketball team on Tuesday evening left for Amman, Jordan, where they will compete in the FIBA Women's Asia Cup Division A.
Gilas Pilipinas Women will have a stopover in Dubai before heading to Jordan, where they will compete from September 27 to October 3.
The team held a training camp at the Summit Point Golf & Country Club in Batangas ahead of the tournament, with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas securing a clearance from the local government for the team.
Their practices were on and off to start, due in large part to Typhoon Jolina which lashed the country earlier this month. Once weather conditions cleared, however, it was all business for the Gilas Women.
"Each and every day was a challenge -- from the swabbing to the team practices -- but we need to prioritize our health," said Gilas Women head coach Patrick Aquino.
"Our mental toughness was also tested during our camp but I feel like that will help us compete against the continent's best teams. We have to take advantage of every opportunity we get to be on the court," he added.
"Our situation is unique but it will help us in the long run."
Aquino retained the core of the team that lifted the Philippines to the top of the podium in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games: Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Clare Castro, Andrea Tongco, Chack Cabinbin, Ria Nabalan, Khate Castillo, and Mar Prado.
Making their seniors team debuts are Ella Fajardo, Camille Clarin, Ann Pingol, and Kristine Cayabyab.
The competition will be tough in Amman as Gilas will face world No. 7 China on September 27 followed by No. 3 Australia on September 28 and No. 34 Chinese-Taipei the next day.
The last-placed team in the group will take on the bottom squad of the other group in a relegation match.
"I have no expectations for this tournament, I am just happy that my players have a chance to compete on the biggest stage once again," Aquino said. "At the end of the day, the opportunity to even play basketball is more than we hoped for so we are just going to go out there and do our best."
Joining Aquino in the coaching staff are Julie Amos, Jose Ramon Garcia, and Paolo Gorospe. Completing the team are doctor Jessie Lazaro, physical therapist Rassel Urag, and utility Leonardo Felisilda.
Ahead of their departure, Aquino expressed his gratitude to the SBP and their hosts in Batangas, the Summit Point Golf and Country Club and JET Hotel.
"Your support will never go unnoticed," he said.