JULIE Amos is cherishing the gold-medal win of Gilas Pilipinas Women in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, something that she wasn’t able to do during her playing days.
The assistant coach of the national women’s team was a member of the 1995 Philippine team that won the silver medal in the SEA Games in Chang Mai, Thailand, one of the times where the country came very close to winning the title.
Now a member of the coaching staff of head coach Pat Aquino, Amos, 47, shares with her players the joy of the first-ever women’s basketball gold in the SEA Games.
“Ang sarap ng feeling kasi finally. Puro pangarap lang namin ‘yan so at least ngayon, we got it tapos sa Pilipinas pa,” said Amos.
Twenty-four years ago, Amos was part of the women’s national team in the SEA Games where they had high hopes to win a gold after beating defending champion Malaysia, 81-79. However, the team failed in their gold medal bid when they lost to host Thailand, 91-53.
“We won against Malaysia from behind 16 points,” Amos recalled like it was yesterday. “Pagdating sa finals, we played against Thailand also but we were not lucky enough. That was a good finish.”
Amos, who played for University of Santo Tomas during her college days, played in four SEA Games but the 1995 team was the only time she won a medal.
During the preparation of Gilas Women for the SEA Games, Amos was able to share her SEA Games experience in 1995 to the current batch.
“We had this team building lately. Sabi ko, please, eto rin ‘yung pangarap namin as a player. Ngayon, I’m part of the coaching staf. I wish na ‘yung dream namin before back in the old era, magawa namin ngayon,” said Amos.
Incidentally, a few of the members of the 1995 women’s basketball team were also at hand to witness the games of Gilas Women at the Mall of Asia Arena. Amos said she was able to bring three in Bambi Tinasas, Erline Destacamento, and Venus Gualdaquever.
Amos recalled the hardship of the 1995 team in order to finally win that silver medal which was previously won in 1985.
“We were lucky. Ngayon, may Fiba-Asia, noon is ABC ang tawag. Pero we are not in the Division A level pero we had competitions abroad which I think is a big factor para magkaroon ng exposure. Pero ang hirap,” said Amos.
“Naka-in house kami sa Rizal. We practiced three times a day. Halos dun na kami nakatira. It took us three SEA Games bago namin nagawa ‘yung silver. I was a member in 1991, 1993, and then 1995, finally, we got silver,” said Amos.
For this team, Amos said Gilas Pilipinas Women used the closed calls of past SEA Games to fuel its drive to win the gold. Amos said the team treated every game as important more so since the Philippine squad missed a medal due to the quotient system in the past.
There was indeed no let up for the Gilas Women. The Philippines beat Indonesia, 63-56, in the first game before winning over 2017 champion Malaysia, 81-75. Gilas completed the gold medal win with a lopsided 91-71 win over Thailand.
“Naging motivation namin ‘yun,” said Amos. “One game para mag-gold all the time. Palagi kaming napupunta sa quotient system. When we played against Indonesia, pag manalo kami dito, ibang usapan na ‘to. Kasi parating Indonesia ‘yung heartbreak namin. Then came Malaysia, the champion caliber, hanggang pagdating ng Thailand, tuluy-tuloy na ‘yun.”
Following the gold-medal win, Amos hopes that the SEA Games victory will invigorate women’s basketball in the country.
“I’m happy that I’m part of history. And we share this to everybody and to the female ballers who have been aspiring to be recognized. Kasama sila sa aming victory,” said Amos.
“We just hope na ‘yung pinaghirapan amin, hindi mabalewala. After the recognition, we hope for more progress and more exposure on us. Other countries, they have professional leagues. ‘Yun ang kulang namin. Mabigyan sila ng tuluy-tuloy na programa, mas madali for the national team,” said Amos.