IT pained Clare Castro to miss out on the Gilas Pilipinas Women's campaign in the 2019 Fiba Women's Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The 22-year-old decided to pass up the chance and give her full focus to Far Eastern University in her final year with the Lady Tamaraws.
Castro, though, vowed that when it's all over, she'll be back for Gilas Women.
FEU did finish third this past UAAP Season 82 as Castro earned her spot in the Mythical Team to cap off her collegiate career.
With her FEU days done, the 6-foot-5 center proved to be a woman of her word, coming back and giving the Philippines an added ceiling as it sought its first gold in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
"Ang mindset ko lang is talagang makatulong sa team at makatulong maabot yung goal namin," she said, doing her best to make up for lost time.
Castro's sacrifices were duly rewarded, with her earning two gold medals -- one for 3x3 and one for the five-a-side game for the country.
"Sobrang sarap sa feeling kasi first ever gold yun sa women's basketball," she said.
Castro teamed up with Afril Bernardino, Jack Animam, and Janine Pontejos in the 3x3 game, before they all sustained that run in 5-on-5, sweeping the four-nation tourney to rise to the pinnacle for the first time in the biennial meet.
Yet for all the success, Castro said that there's really nothing quite like representing your country, win or lose.
"Yung gold, bonus na lang sa akin yun," she said.