Fajardo, Clarin boost Gilas women
Orphaned by the departure of one of its pillars, the Gilas Pilipinas women’s basketball team is counting on new faces when it sets out to compete in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Women’s Cup in Amman, Jordan.
Guards Ella Fajardo and Camille Clarin are among those newly tapped to reinforce the team which will battle Olympic-caliber teams China and Australia, and Chinese Taipei in the meet’s Group B.
Head coach Patrick Aquino said Jack Animam is a big loss for the squad, which last saw action in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games where it won the gold medal.
“Now we became a smaller team,” said Aquino. “But we are looking for ways to compensate for height. The team is talented so we are confident.”
The 6-foot-5 Animam left to play for Radnicki Kragujevac in Serbia, leaving Gilas with 6-foot-5 Clare Castro as its tallest member of the roster.
Aquino said 5-foot-10 Clarin and 5-foot-5 Fajardo are in quarantine after arriving from Canada and the United States, respectively.
“They will be joining the team next week,” added Aquino, who said the team is leaving for Amman on Sept. 21, straight from their bubble camp in Lipa, Batangas.
“The team is excited to finally compete, but it’s going to be a big adjustment for us because we used to meet just on Zoom,” said Aquino.
He said the bio-secure setup is a concern for the team because most members are new to such arrangement.
The team trains at Summit Point Golf and Country Club and is billeted at Jet Hotel, Lipa. The last two finishers of the eight-team tournament will be relegated to Fiba Division 2.