Ladies first: Perlas Pilipinas opens FIBA Asia Women’s campaign

Naveen Ganglani
Ladies first: Perlas Pilipinas opens FIBA Asia Women’s campaign
A month before the men take the court in China, the Philippine women's national basketball team showcases its skills at the FIBA Asia Women's Championship

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ women’s national basketball team will open their campaign in the 2015 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship to be held Wuhan, China on Saturday, August 29, when they take on Malaysia.

Ranked 58th in the world by FIBA and head coached by Patrick Aquino, Perlas Pilipinas is one of 6 teams in Group B of the tourney alongside Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, North Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Japan, South Korea, China, Chinese Taipei, India, and Thailand make up Group A, which is comprised of the countries that made the semifinal round of the 2013 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship and won in that year’s qualifying round.

Here’s the schedule of Perlas Pilipinas in the preliminaries:

August 29: vs. Malaysia

August 30: vs. North Korea

August 31: vs. Sri Lanka

September 1: vs. Hong Kong

September 2: vs. Kazakhstan

According to FIBA, the group phase will be played a in a round robin format with every team taking on each of its groupmates, totaling to 5 games for each country in the prelims.

In the semifinals, the first-placed team from Group A will go up against the fourth-placed team from Group A, while the second-placed team in Group A will take on the third-placed team also in Group A.

The winners of the aforementioned matchups will then advance to the gold medal match while the losers will settle for the battle for bronze contest.

The fifth-placed team in Group A will take on the second-placed team of Group B in the qualifying round while the sixth-placed team in Group A will go up against the first-placed team of Group B – to happen on the same day of the semis, on September 4.

The winners will be promoted to Group A for the 2017 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship, while the losers will fall or remain in Group B.

Since they’re in Group B, the best Perlas Pilipinas can achieve is to qualify into Group A for the next FIBA Asia tilt two years from now – something that would be a stepping stone for the team’s development.

The women’s national team is composed of: Chovi Borja, Shelley Gupilan, Camille Dambile, Marizze Tongco, Jack Animam, Cindy Resultay, Raiza Dy, Gemma Miranda, Afril Bernardino, Allana Lim, Sofia Roman, and Merenciana Arayi.

The team had sought to naturalize Filipino-American Kelli Hayes from UCLA, but were unable to get a commitment from the 6-foot-1 player, Interaksyon reports.

According to FIBA, the team’s average age is 23 and their average height is 5-foot 8.

During the 2013 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship, the Philippine team – then coached by Haydee Ong – was also in Group B but finished with only a 3-2 record which wasn’t good enough to put them in the qualifying round.

The 2013 edition of the tourney, which was held in Thailand, was won by Japan, who beat South Korea in the finals, 65-43.

In the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, Perlas Pilipinas finished in fourth place after defeating Singapore, 82-72. –

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