Perlas Pilipinas: Wow, we made history!
WUHAN (2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship) – Afril Bernardino returned a tournament-high 32 points leading Perlas Pilipinas to an 82-76 win over India in the relegation play-off thus earning a ticket to the Level I competition two years later for the basketball-crazy nation.
"We have arrived," declared Philippines coach Patrick Aquino.
"From a women's basketball point of view in the Philippines, this ranks as good as the Gilas qualifying (for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup)," he said.
Bernardino was stuck for words in reacting after the win.
"I just don't know what to say," said the teenage collegian.
"Wow! We made history.
"I'm very happy for the win. We didn't come with expectations. We just wanted to show that we (Philippines women) can play good basketball. Qualifying is an icing on the cake," she said.
Philippines led only by two (39-37) at the end of the half-time, but scored the first 13 points of the second half which virtually sealed fate of the game.
"The coach told us just to relax and put our heads down. He told us that they (India) were more under pressure. He asked us to just cut down the mistakes," said Shelley Gupilan, a catalyst in that run.
"It's time to invest in Philippine women's basketball," said Aquino.
"We are thankful for all the support from SBP and other sponsors. I think we have returned their faith with our performance.
"Now the time has to come to put together a proper program for women's basketball development in the Philippines," he said.