Afril Bernardino shrugs off thumb injury for a golden performance
MANILA, Philippines — Playing with one good hand, Afril Bernardino collapsed on the floor after laying everything on the line in the Philippines’ gold medal quest in 3×3 women’s basketball of the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Monday.
After letting her emotions out, Bernardino got back on her feet and gave each one of her teammates a hug in celebration as the hometown crowd cheered.
She made sure to save her warmest embrace for a special someone watching in the stands.
“The moment I saw my father, I immediately felt that everything we sacrificed for was worth it,” Bernardino said in Filipino. “We practice everyday, even during weekends so don’t get any chance to go home and be with our families.”
“I hugged him really tight and as loud as I could, I told papa all the sacrifices are worth it.”
MVP chants rained down on Bernardino and deservedly so. She played through a sprained left thumb and somehow, the three-time UAAP MVP still carried Gilas to the top of the podium.
Even her coach Pat Aquino struggled to wrap his head around Bernardino’s performance particularly in the gold medal match where she put on a show scoring 10 of Gilas’ 17 points in a four-point win.
“She was playing with a sprained thumb and I’m trying to figure out how she was able to play that way. She played really, really well,” Aquino marveled. “She really wanted to win this gold for us and I know in her heart she really wants to prove something not only to us but to all of you guys hoping you would recognize us.”
“I aggravated it earlier at the start of the game and it was really painful, but I just told myself if I give up now, we’re just going to end up wasting all the sacrifices that we made,” Bernardino said.
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