After ruling the recent SEABA (Southeast Asian Basketball Association) tournament in Malaysia, Perlas Pilipinas is bracing for the Southeast Asian Games.
“The target now is the Southeast Asian Games. If we win the gold in the Southeast Asian Games, then it will be our ticket to the Asian Games,” said Perlas Pilipinas head coach Patrick Aquino during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum in Malate.
The next SEA Games was set in August 2017 in Malaysia.
Perlas Pilipinas swept all of its six matches in the SEABA tournament, including bouts against reigning SEA Games champion Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Aquino said the feat is a clear indication that Perlas Pilipinas is a force to be reckoned with the next SEA Games in Malaysia.
But Aquino added that the team would need a couple of Fil-foreign or naturalized players as reinforcement.
Aquino said he would leave for the US in December to scout for players.
“We need tall players so we can match up especially in the Asian level where Japan is now the No.1 team. But if you look at China, it has players as tall as 6’7 or 6’8 or forwards at 6’4 and guards standing six feet,” he said.
Aquino said that in the whole of Asia, the Philippines may rank fifth or sixth so the goal is enter the top four. He added that if he could have his way, he would keep the core of the team that won the SEABA crown.
“This is our team. This is the core. We have the talent. We have players who impressed the foreign coaches. But what I really liked about this team was the way they played together,” said Aquino.
Joining Aquino as assistant coaches are Juli Amos, and players Andrea Tongco, Ara Abaca, Chack Cabinbin, Camille Sambile, Cindy Resultay, Raiza Dy and Most Valuable Player April Bernardino.
Aquino added that Perlas might play in Japan or other overseas tourneys as preparation for the next SEA Games.
Aquino also bared his plans of creating a semiprofessional women’s basketball league in preparation for bigger tournaments next year.
“We want to create our own semipro competition for our female players to help sustain and continue the program of women’s basketball,” said Aquino.
Aquino said that the semipro league is a good ground to look for eligible players for the national pool, “We will see the level of competitiveness of athletes here.”
He said that they are planning to open the league in January next year and will run initially for two conferences until July 2017.
According to Aquino, the goal is to attract teams from different schools to join the league, which will be supported by corporate sponsors.
“We want to widen the fan base and draw popularity for each participating squad,” he said.
The planned semipro league is eyeing the Philippine Basketball Association and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as partners.
“The league is part of our buildup for international tournaments. That’s why we want to push for this matter because it will be helpful for our development program,” Aquino said.