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World no. 51 Gilas Women 'ready to compete' with higher-ranked foes in FIBA Asia Cup

Gilas Pilipinas Women head coach Pat Aquino is very much confident that his wards are ready and raring to showcase their skills against more experienced opponents in the FIBA Women's Asia Cup Division A competition set from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.

"Whether it's Group A or Group B, all teams are ready to play high-level basketball," Aquino told ESPN5 in a message.

"We played against Chinese Taipei in the 2019 Jones Cup and they are also a high-caliber team. It will be challenging, but I am confident that the team will be ready to compete," he added.

The Philippines is grouped with China and Australia - which finished fifth and eight, respectively, in the recent Tokyo Olympics - as well as Chinese Taipei. As part of their preparation, Aquino and his staff have already reviewed game film of China and Australia in the Olympiad.

"We were able to identify notable players that can potentially hurt us offensively. Together with the coaching staff, we have been working closely in polishing the system to make sure that the girls are ready to execute the plays come game time," assured the mentor who has long been at the vanguard of Philippine women's basketball.

Gilas Women are currently in the second day of their three-day quarantine in Amman, Jordan. Due to the five-hour difference from Manila, the players are still adjusting their body clocks and are resting.

"The players are just getting all the rest that they need because the next couple of days will be very crucial for them," mentioned Aquino.

Making up the national team are mainstays Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Clare Castro, Andrea Tongco, Chack Cabinbin, Ria Nabalan, and Mar Prado. Meantime, Ella Fajardo, Camille Clarin, Ann Pingol, and Kristine Cayabyab will make their senior's team debut.

Gilas, 51st-ranked in the world, will fight world no. 7 China in the opener on Sept. 27, no. 3 Australia on the 28th, and no. 34 Chinese Taipei on the 29th. Whoever places last among them will have to duke it out with the bottom-ranked team of the other group for the right to retain their Division A status.