MANILA - "We got game" and so should all women do, members of the Gilas Pilipinas Women's national basketball team declared this Women's Month of March as they prepare for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia in May with a goal of bagging their third straight gold in the regional competition.
"Nowadays, women are showing they are so capable of doing anything they want to achieve, whether it be sports, whether it be things in life men are doing as well," crowd favorite and small forward Trina Guytingco told ABS-CBN News in an interview.
"Women’s basketball is on the come up in the Philippines... Not even just in basketball. Women’s football team, they are also performing really well," she added.
Acknowledging that basketball is a physical game, shooting guard Janine Pontejos said one's interest in the sport should prevail over any perceived fears.
"Kung yung talent mo is nandoon, mapapakita mo mas magaling ka pa sa lalaki maglaro, sana makuha pa din nila yung goal nila sa paglalaro," she said.
"Continue nila dreams nila at 'wag makinig sa mga negative na sinasabi, na babae ka lang. Patunayan (mo) na kaya mo din," said the player whose greatness in the sport was seen worldwide when she won the gold in the individual shoot-out in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup held in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Center Clare Castro echoed Pontejos.
“Tuloy niyo lang kung anong gusto niyo. 'Wag niyo na pansinin yung mga tao sa paligid niyo. Lahat naman 'yan, may masasabi. Mag-focus na lang kayo sa anong gusto niyo mangyari sa buhay niyo and anong gusto niyong marating," she said.
Castro said she knows her priorities in life, which include being an inspiration to women.
Aware of the challenge women face in their male-dominated sport, Sofia Roman asserts, "We got game."
"The challenge is to kind of prove that, you know, we are also equal in a sense. The way we play with the guys, it might not be the same basketball, they are a lot more athletic than us. But we still can play," she said.
"So I think, it’s just kind of proving the world and exposing yourself a bit more, that we can play not just in the Philippines but, you know, all over the world.”
With basketball such a popular sport especially with men, the Filipina dribblers turned a lot of heads especially with the Men’s side losing against Indonesia in the last SEAG, which was a tough blow for the country after dominating the region 18 out of 20 times before the horror in Hanoi.
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.
In 2021, they retained their place in FIBA Asia Division A. And in the Hanoi SEA Games last year, they were the only basketball team to bring home a gold medal.
"I’m really happy actually that I’ve been able to see the difference since 2015. And till now, there’s been growth... It might be a little slow, but it’s for sure happening that we’re getting more exposure, that we’re getting more support," Roman said of their team's challenges.
“Don’t hesitate just because there are obstacles in the way right now. The game is changing. I know for a fact it is... So, I would say don’t fear the obstacles if this is something you really want to do and you’re passionate about. Go for it.”
- with a report from Camille Naredo, ABS-CBN News
This article is part of the Amazing Women series of ABS-CBN News this month of March, featuring stories of select women who are making a mark in their respective fields and advocacies. March is National Women's Month in the Philippines.