MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas Women exacted revenge on Thailand to capture the gold medal in 3x3 basketball in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Afril Bernardino delivered 10 points as she almost singlehandedly towed the Philippines to an exhilirating 17-13 win before an appreciative crowd at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Monday, December 2.
Despite suffering a sprained thumb, Bernardino laid it all on the floor, giving Gilas Pilipinas Women a comfortable 16-6 lead using her sheer speed and wit to deceive her defender on successful drive attempts.
"I couldn't fathom how great of a game she played," Philippines head coach Pat Aquino said of Bernardino in a mix of Filipino and English.
"She really wanted to win this gold for us and I know in her heart that she really wanted to prove something, not only for us but to all of you that maybe Filipinos can also give us attention," Aquino added.
Thailand, though, never wavered and mounted a last-ditch comeback after narrowing the gap to 13-17 behind a 7-1 run.
But with time expiring, the Philippines held on to the win that seemed like a revenge of sorts after its only loss of the tournament came at the hands of Thailand.
Thunderous applause and roaring screams from fans in the venue followed as the Filipinas held back tears upon realizing the historic feat they accomplished, with 3x3 basketball debuting in the SEA Games.
"I can only hope that women's basketball will become more popular after what we did. We'll continue to get better," said Janine Pontejos, who chipped in 3 points in the finals victory, in Filipino.
Jack Animam also had 3 points, while Clare Castro added 1 points for the Philippines. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.