Perlas Pilipinas showed that they have what it takes to compete in the international stage

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from

Despite losing the knock-out-round versus a more experienced and versatile Australian team, coach Patrick Aquino and the 3×3 women’s basketball team are returning to the Philippines with their heads held high.

On the opening day of the competition, Perlas Pilipinas dominated their opponents after displaying some of their best performance in the international stage. They defeated Samoa, 21-1, and finished off Vanuatu, 22-5, to set their biggest victories in FIBA history.

After that stunning first round display, the Perlas team composed of Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Jack Aminam, and Clare Castro faced off with powerhouses Japan and Sri Lanka. The women fell short against Japan, 20-8, but managed to finish Pool B with a 1-1 record after clobbering Sri Lanka, 21-6. Since the Perlas Pilipinas team had a better overall points average throughout the tournament, they were able to move on to the qualifying round where they faced Australia.

In the quarterfinals, the women put up a hard-fought battle against Australia. Pontejos, who led the team with eight points, continued to explode from beyond the arc. But the Pinays couldn’t stop Australia’s Alice Kunek, who scored 13 points and sparked the early lead for the Aussies.

Castro pulled Gilas back midway through the game, cutting the lead to just one point but Kunek answered right back with her own three pointer and a one-and-one play that won the game for Australia, 21-16.

Despite not making it to the semifinals, the women showed the world that they too can compete against some of the world’s best.

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