Even after two tough losses in Day One of the 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup, Perlas Pilipinas head coach Pat Aquino has nothing but pride for his wards’ gutsy play.
However, he did acknowledge that there was one massive ingredient missing in the mix: experience.
“We went head-to-head with them, but they’re more experienced and that’s one thing we lack. That’s why I always say that exposure’s always the best way to win in this kind of level,” head coach Pat Aquino said.
Getting the burn that he wants his players to have isn’t an option that’s always ready. As it stands today, there’s no semi-professional or pro league that sets the stage for Filipina basketball players to fine-tune their play after college.
And for Aquino, that’s the first building block for training to compete at a higher level than where they are right now.
“That’s what I’m longing for,” Aquino answered when asked about the possibility of having a women’s league.
“After college there should be a big sponsor that could help us to have a semi-professional league for everybody, and I think that would be the first step for competing in this kind of level,” he added.
“It’s really hard for them kasi after training so hard, after college and having those awards, tapos nun wala na.”
(It’s really hard for them kasi after training so hard, after college and having those awards, then there’s nothing next.)
Jack Animam is also an advocate for having a women’s basketball league here in the Philippines. She said that as athletes, Filipina ballers should also have the chance to play not only for themselves but also for the country – in a more competitive state.
“’Yung men’s, after college meron silang PBA (Philippine Basketball Association). Why not kami ring mga babae eh pare-parehas lang naman kaming mga athlete,” she said.
(Men’s basketball has PBA after college. Why can’t we women have our own? We’re all athletes here.)
The UAAP has taken that first step towards promoting 3×3 play in the Philippines, with Animam and fellow Perlas standout Afril Bernandino bagging the crown in the inaugural edition of the women’s format.
But even that is not enough.
“Deserve din naman siguro namin magkaroon ng semi-pro league or league para sa’min kasi nandito kami ‘di lang para sa sarili naming kundi para sa buong bansa.”
(We deserve to have our own semi-pro or pro league because we’re playing not just for ourselves but also for the country.)
For Aquino, a women’s pro league will give them more game experience and will help build physicality and endurance to a world-class level.
All that’s needed is for fans and potential backers to see how this could benefit everyone.
“Just give us a chance to prove that these girls are working hard and that they’re [trying] to prove themselves and I know they can be at this level in the future,” he explained.
“Sana ma-encourage natin ‘yung iba, makita kami na naghihirap and makita ng mga bata and they join us for the future of women’s basketball.”
(I hope we encourage the others and let them see our struggles so that they can join us for the future of women’s basketball.)
Photo from FIBA