PHILIPPINE women’s 3x3 basketball team clinched a semifinal berth in the 30th Southeast Asian Games after sweeping three games on Sunday at the Arena in San Juan City.
Afril Bernardino delivered the clutch baskets that allowed the Gilas Women to survive a gritty Indonesia side, 16-13, and complete a three-game sweep in Day One of the inaugural 3x3 SEA Games tournament.
The Filipinas blew a 12-5 advantage after the Indonesians scored five unanswered points to close to within two, 12-10. But Bernardino came to the rescue with back-to-back baskets, followed by Janine Pontejos’s jumper for an 15-11 breather.
Bernardino hurt her right thumb in the final minute as the Indonesians kept themselves afloat, 15-13, but Jack Animam’s freethrow and a great defensive stop kept the Philippines unbeaten.
“Kumikirot pa rin siya pero siguro hindi ko na iniisip yung sakit kasi lahat naman kami pinagtrabahuan yung event na ‘to, pinaghandaan talaga namin ‘to,” said Bernardino, assuring that her right thumb is fine. “Hindi ito reason para mag-give up.”
The Pat Aquino-coached squad opened its campaign in the six-team field with a dominant 21-4 victory over Myanmar, led by Clare Castro’s eight points. Then, the Nationals survived a late scare from Malaysia, 15-13.
The Filipina Cagers wrap up their elimination-round campaign on Monday morning against Vietnam at 9:20 am and Thailand at 10:40 am before heading to the semifinals round, which starts at 2 pm.
“Panibagong araw nanaman bukas so kailangan tuloy tuloy pa rin yung momentum namin na kailangan manalo kami hanggang matapos ang 3x3 at makuha yung gold,” Pontejos said.