SINGAPORE - They say opportunity seldom knocks twice.
Not in the case of Perlas Pilipinas, though.
The Philippine women’s basketball team got a new lease on life in its bid for a breakthrough gold medal in the 28th Southeast Asian Games after tormentor Thailand was upset by Malaysia, 65-56 on Wednesday night.
Until the stunning loss by the Thais, everything appeared over for the Filipinas, who bowed to the reigning champions, 62-57, in their opening duel in what coach Pat Aquino labeled as the ‘gold medal match.'
On Thursday, the Filipinas were quick to do their part as they turned back the Malaysians, 74-63, for their second straight win.
Now, Perlas Pilipinas all have to do is to win its last two remaining games in the round-robin tournament to emerge as the team with the best record and win the gold outright.
A tie among the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia at the end of the meet will have the Filipinas running away with the title by virtue of a superior quotient.
The Philippines will face Indonesia on Friday before wrapping up its assignment against host Singapore on Monday.
“Last two games, dapat makapaglaro tayo ng mabuti. We have to work harder. Hindi na namin pakakawalan ‘to,” said Aquino.
The national coach said the team was at the OCBC Arena and watched the Malaysia-Thailand game.
He admitted the team was cheering for Malaysia at first, but had a change of heart when suddenly, the lead had grown bigger, which could mean a better quotient for the Malaysians if the gold medal will be decided via the tie-breaker.
“We were cheering for Malaysia at first, pero nung lumamang na ng 11 points, doon na tayo sa Thailand. Mukha kaming sira ulo,” said Aquino with a smile.
Shortly after the game, Aquino was quick to point out to his players how fortunate the team was.
“It was a good feeling to be given another chance. It’s a matter of working hard against Malaysia. Sabi nga namin yesterday (Wednesday), we have been given another chance. I-grab natin ‘to. Let’s not waste it,” said Aquino.
The Perlas Pilipinas coach commended Allana Lim, Ewon Arayi, and Amby Almazan, who provided the lift as veterans of the team.
Lim scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Arayi had 15 along with Cindy Resultay. Almazan, on the other hand, had six points but grabbed eight boards.
“I will commend ‘yung mga veterans, Arayi, Allana Lim, and Amby Almazan. They really took over the game. Maybe revenge dahil nga parang may sumpa sa kanila dati against Thailand,” Aquino said.