MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine women's basketball team will look to climb to the top of the podium for the first time ever when it plays Thailand in the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Both teams have a 2-0 win-loss record in the single round-robin tournament, and whoever wins the game gets the gold medal.
"This is what we worked hard for, for the longest time," said Gilas Women's coach Patrick Aquino, who took over the program in 2015. "Ito 'yung pinakagusto natin and sana di na natin pakawalan 'to."
"We will be preparing well. I know Thailand is a tough team to crack. Hopefully we could get something going on Tuesday," he added.
A thrilling 81-75 triumph over defending champion Malaysia on Sunday kept the Philippines in the hunt for the gold medal.
However, the team will likely be the underdog against a Thailand team that has been superb so far in the SEA Games. Thailand routed Malaysia 70-47, then downed Indonesia 67-58 to put themselves in position for the gold.
They are led by WNBA player Tiffany Bias, who is averaging 18.5 points and 8 assists per game in the tournament.
Afril Bernardino, whose near 20-20 fueled the Gilas Women's win over Indonesia, is ready to take on the challenge of defending the New York Liberty guard.
"Siguro play good defense lang and more talking inside, sa defense and sana ma-execute namin ng maayos 'yung plays na ituturo sa amin ni coach Pat," Bernardino said of the Filipinas' keys to victory.
The Gilas Women last reached the podium in the 2013 SEA Games, when they settled for silver
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.