Perlas Pilipinas kicks off SEABA women’s title bid v Singapore

MALACCA, Malaysia–Perlas Pilipinas opened its SEABA Women’s Championship campaign against Singapore on Tuesday here.

Game time is at 3 p.m. marking the first time the Filipinas will be seeing action since their dramatic run last year in the FIBA Asia Women’s Championship on the way to being promoted to level 1 of competition.

The national women’s side though will have to make a last-minute change in its line up.

Ewon Arayi, the longest-serving national team member, had to be replaced by Andrea Pontejos.

The veteran cagebelle was brought to V. Luna Hospital last week after being diagnosed with dengue. Although Arayi has recovered since and has joined the team in Malacca, the doctors did not give her the clearance to play.

Arayi is an enlisted personnel of the Philippine Navy.

“Kaya ko na nga maglaro, kaso lang yung doctor namin sa Navy ayaw ako bigyan ng clearance. Gusto niyang magpahinga pa ako,” shared Arayi.

On Monday, three other key members of the team joined the 11 players who left a day earlier.

Head coach Patrick Aquino arrived along, with Afril Bernardino and Jack Animam, two of her players from the National University Lady Bulldogs. The three failed to join the trip on Sunday as they had to see action for the Lady Bulldogs first in the UAAP women’s basketball.

Bernardino was a former UAAP Most Valuable Player while Animam is currently NU’s starting center.

Aquino has managed to make a smooth integration of the training of NU and Perlas Pilipinas as the national women’s team made its build up for SEABA.

Meanwhile, also scheduled on Tuesday is Thailand, which battles Indonesia at 5 p.m. followed by an opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Host Malaysia and Vietnam collide in the main game at 8 p.m.