GILAS Pilipinas girls kicked off its Division A promotion bid with a 65-50 win over Thailand in the FIBA U18 Women’s Asian Championship Division B play late Monday night at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium in Bangalore, India.
Up by just four early in the payoff period, the Nationals launched a killer 20-7 run for a 65-48 lead that sealed their first win in Group A of the Asian youth tourney serving as a qualifier to the elite Division A.
Kate Bobadilla led the way for the wards of coach Pat Aquino with 22 markers on three triples while UC San Diego-commit Sumayah Sugapong turned in nine points, eight rebounds and five steals in her Gilas debut.
Kristan Yumul, who led the U16 team’s bronze-medal finish two months ago in Jordan, added 10 while Camille Nolasco and Louna Ozar had eight each in Gilas’ 15-point victory.
Gilas has Samoa and Maldives next in group play with hopes of finishing on top to gain an outright ticket to the semifinals. Otherwise, Gilas has to go through in the qualifying phase first before advancing.
Only the champion of Division B will be given a ticket to join the prestigious Division A that includes Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, India and Indonesia.
The Philippine cagebelles, then led by Ms. Yumul before her U18 transition, missed out on that Division A promotion in the U16 category after bowing in the Final Four against eventual champion Samoa.
Meanwhile, Laksamee Hewchaiyaphum was the only bright spot for Thailand with 10 markers. — John Bryan Ulanday