MANILA, Philippines (2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women): Under normal circumstances, the Philippines U16 women’s team would have been trying their hand in the Level II competition of the 2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women in Jinan, but a combination of factors that affected a fellow SEABA team has put the Filipino girls among the elite Level I.
At the inaugural edition of the FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women at Pune two years ago, Philippines only finished seventh.
But Thailand, who finished fifth in Pune faced a FIBA suspension and therefore ineligible to play in this edition of the FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women, and Philippines were pushed up the ranking and placed in Level I.
Thailand were subsequently reinstated, but with the competition originally slated for October when Thailand were yet under suspension, Philippines continue to remain in Level I for the 2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women.
Thus, the Raymond Celis-trained squad has their task cut out when they take on China, Chinese Taipei, India, Japan and Korea in Level I of the competition here.
Although beginning the competition as underdogs, the Filipino girls – known as Hijas Pilipinas – don’t have to look far for inspiration in a year that has seen Philippines take firm steps towards regaining their past glory.
At the 23rd FIBA Asia Champions Cup in May, Smart Gilas took quite a few fancied teams in their stride before losing in the bronze medal play-off and in September at the 26th FIBA Asia Championship the men’s National Team made the semifinals after a 24-year gap.
The men U16 team finished a creditable fourth – missing a medal by a whisker – in the 2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship in Nha Trang in October this year.
And more recently, the Filipino women won the silver medal at the 26th SEA Games beating the more experienced Malaysia and Indonesia en route.
Will those performances of their counterparts inspire the Hijas Pilipinas!
Photo: A file photo of the Philippines U16 team at the Opening Ceremony of the 1st FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women in Pune.