Exciting times as Perlas Pilipinas welcomes influx of talents in biggest pool yet
MANILA, Philippines—The influx of talent vying for a spot in the Philippine women’s basketball team is a problem that head coach Patrick Aquino would gladly welcome any day.
Perlas Pilipinas currently has 17 players part of its national team pool for the 2019 Fiba Women’s Asia Cup and 2019 Southeast Asian Games later this year.
The number is expected to grow further to 21 with four more Fil-American prospects joining the pool in July.
“I’m just excited. Half of the team are veterans and half are new. The ages are young which is very exciting. They have hustle and they’re eager to show that they can play,” Aquino said Tuesday after wrapping up practice at Aero Center Gym in Quezon City.
Comprising what Aquino describes as the “biggest pool” he’s ever had are veterans Jack Animam, Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Clare Castro, Analyn Almazan, Cindy Resultay, Andrea Tongco, Gemma Miranda and Snow Penaranda.
The mainstays are joined by Camille Claro and Khate Castillo, Danica Jose, Tina Deacon, Hazel Yam, Bea Daez, Eunique Chan, Ria Nabalan and Fil-American Bruin Kelli Hayes.
The Fil-American Hayes, whose mother is Filipino, is a former UCLA Bruin and her arrival has brought nothing but positivity to the team.
“I think Kelli is the most experienced player here in the group and her talent is really different,” said Aquino, who hopes to finally steer the team to a historic SEA Games gold this year. “She can play the one to four.”
“When she arrived I thought she’s going to play as a big man but it turns out she’s a guard so she’s really big for her position which is a good thing,” said Animam, who jokingly claims Hayes is her long lost sister due to their resemblance with each other from the facial features to their built and hairstyle.
Perlas leaves for Taiwan Wednesday to hold a five-day training camp where the squad plays tuneup games against top collegiate and club teams.