SINGAPORE -The Philippines finally delivered and captured the gold in the sport dearest to the Filipinos’ hearts.
Playing with fire in their eyes, the Filipina cagebelles demolished host Singapore, 82-32, Wednesday to rule the women’s basketball tournament of the 9th ASEAN School Games here.
With a handful of supporters, including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) loudly cheering in the stands of the Tampines Sports Hub here, the Filipinas played inspired ballgame and tore the match apart early on the way to completing a four-game sweep of the meet.
The 50-point winning margin was the biggest for the newly-crowned champions, who earlier beat Malaysia, dethroned titleholder Thailand, and Indonesia.
For coach Angelina Fedillaga, preparation for this year's edition of the meet was the key in ending the country’s back-to-back bridesmaid finish to Thailand in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
“Ayaw na namin mag-settle sa runner-up finish. Mindset namin talaga is to win the gold. In-instill ko talaga yan sa kanila (We don’t to settle for the runner-up finish this time. Our mindset was to win the gold),” Fedillaga said after the finals.
Kristine Cayabyab played her best game in the tournament, finishing with a team-high 21 points, while Kent Jane Pastrana and Jeeul Rhcoel B. Bartolo added13 and 12 points, respectively.
Cayabyab, who took part in a six-week training in the Nike Rise basketball program under the direct supervision of Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes in 2015, showcased flashes of her explosiveness and scoring abilities against a hapless Singapore side.
“We played with pride and teamwork. That’s why we won,” Fedillaga said in the vernacular.
“Sobrang happy talaga. First time namin mag-gold. The credit for our success goes to the girls for playing well,” she added.
Pastrana, 16, a Grade 10 student from Doña Montserrat Lopez Memorial High School, stressed team effort did it for the young Filipinas, who played without any superstar in their roster.
“Nag-concentrate lang ako kung ano ang maitutulong ko sa team. Happy ako na naging part ako sa success ng team dito sa ASEAN School Games (I just played my role on the court. I’m happy that I made a difference for my team),” Pastrana said.
For winning the gold, Fedillaga said the team is planning to have a victory celebration dinner with the bosses of the SM Markets, who sponsored the playing uniforms of the girls.
“After ng dinner baka bukas maglilibot din kami dito sa Singapore (We will also go on a city tour tomorrow),” Fedillaga said.