The Philippines kicks off its title campaign in the 9th Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship for Women against Singapore today at the Malacca Stadium in Malaysia.
Perlas Pilipinas, playing in its first tournament after competing in the 2015 FIBA Asia Women Championship, will meet the Singapore cagebelles at 3 p.m.
Four-time champion Thailand will face Indonesia at 5 p.m. to be followed by the opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Defending champion and host Malaysia takes on Vietnam at 8 p.m.
Head coach Patrick Aquino and two of his players from the National University, Afril Bernardino and Jack Animam, arrived in Malaysia on Monday to join the rest of the team who left Manila last Sunday.
The team, which is supported by Ever Bilena, will be playing minus former team captain Ewon Arayi, Gemma Miranda, Chovi Borja and Sofia Romas. Arayi contracted dengue two weeks ago. Taking their places are Chack Cabinbin, Ara Abaca, and Janine Pontejos.
Arayi has recovered from her sickness and decided to join the team in Malaysia, however, she was not allowed to play.
“Kaya ko na nga maglaro, kaso lang yung doctor namin sa Navy ayaw ako bigyan ng clearance. Gusto niyang magpahinga pa ako [I can play but the doctor won’t clear me, saying I should rest],” said Arayi, an enlisted personnel of the Philippine Navy.
Aquino said the players are optimistic on their chances in the tournament, which the Philippines won in 2013.