MALACCA, MALAYSIA – A familiar face is going to welcome the Perlas Pilipinas national team when the squad faces Vietnam in Thursday’s game in the SEABA Women’s Championship at the Bukit Serindit Indoor Stadium here.
Jojo Castillo, a former star player of University of Manila and led the Hawks to multiple championships when he started a coaching career, will be calling the shots for the Vietnamese team that the Filipinas will meet at 6 p.m.
The Filipino mentor is also credited for the tremendous progress of the Ho Chi Minh’s under-19 team, which visited Manila recently and beat Chiang Kai Shek in a tune-up game.
But unlike the under-19 squad, Castillo considers his current team a work in progress that needs a lot of time and exposure before becoming a competitive squad, which is why he’s setting a modest goal.
“Ang gusto ko lang mag-improve yung team from last year’s SEA Games kasi walang ipinanalong laro ito,” said Castillo.
Castillo looks forward to the exposure and learning his team will receive from the Blackwater Women-backed Perlas Pilipinas.
But head coach Patrick Aquino said they won’t take it easy against the Vietnamese even with the Filipino coach in tow.
The Filipinas ran roughshod over Singapore, 69-43, in their opening game on Tuesday and are still playing Laos as of press time. They need to win as many games as possible before heading to their much awaited encounters against crack teams like host Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
“We need to win and improve every game. We want to be in our tip-top condition once we play teams like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand,” said Aquino.
In their opening game against Singapore, the Philippines had a slow start, allowing its rivals to post a 6-0 lead before flexing its muscles in the second period, using its vaunted pressure defense that led to an easy win.