MANILA, Philippines – It will be the Gilas Women’s Under-18’s turn under the spotlight as the team takes the floor in Division B competition of the 2022 FIBA Under-18 Women’s Asian Championship which takes place from September 5 to 11 in Bangalore, India.
The Gilas squad will open its campaign on Monday, September 5, against Thailand at 6:15 pm. The Filipinas take on Samoa on Tuesday, September 6, before closing out the preliminaries on Wednesday, September 7 versus Maldives.
The young Filipinas were drawn in Group A along with Thailand, Samoa, and Maldives. The top two teams will advance to the crossover semifinals against the two best finishers of Group B which is composed of Jordan, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.
Only the winner of Division B will earn the privilege of getting promoted to Division A where Asian powers Australia, China, Japan, and New Zealand play.
The Gilas Women’s Under-18 will be mentored by Gilas Women seniors team head coach Patrick Aquino.
Aquino has formed a squad made up of lengthy and athletic wingers who can play multiple positions and shoot from outside as the team tries to compensate for its lack of bigs.
Three members of the Under-16 squad which placed third in the FIBA Asia U16 held in Jordan last June will return to national team duties.
Kristan Geyl Yumul, the second leading scorer with an average of 21.6 points and the leading three point shooter of the entire FIBA Asia U16 tournament, will be expected to provide the Gilas team with outside shooting firepower.
She will be joined by Miriam College’s Camille Velasco, fresh off a stint in the NBA Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia, and National University’s BJ Villarin.
Two new faces wearing the Philippine jersey who will be worth watching are Sumayah Sugapong of La Jolla Country Day and Louna Ozar of the ESB Villeneuve-d’Ascq Lille Metropole.
The 5-foot-9 Sugapong was named one of the top high school shooting guards in California. She recently committed to play US NCAA Divison I basketball for UC San Diego.
The 18-year-old Ozar, who also stands 5-foot-9, has long been on the radar of the Gilas women’s coaching staff.
She is part of the U18 and U20 teams of ESBVA whose senior squad sees action in the French women’s pro league top division.
Ozar, whose father Leo is from Camiguin, was recruited to play for the French national team in the FIBA Women’s U16 European Championship but chose instead to see action for the Philippines.
The frontline duties will be handled by 6-foot Sydney Heyn and 5-foot-11 Candice Udal. The rest of the squad are Ashley Loon, Ryhanna Calvert, Kate Bobadilla, Kalynne Mendez, and Hope Mangal-Lan. – Rappler.com