WUHAN, China—Afril Ber-nardino fired a tournament-high 32 points as Perlas Pilipinas downed India, 82-76, in the relegation playoff, earning the Filipinos a ticket to Fiba Asia Women’s Championship’s elite Level I competition.
“We have arrived,” said Philippines coach Patrick Aquino.
“From a women’s basketball point of view in the Philippines, this ranks as good as Gilas qualifying (for the 2014 Fiba World Cup),” he said.
Bernardino was stuck for words 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 a lot of expectations. We just wanted to show that we (Filipino women) can play good basketball. Qualifying is icing on the cake.”
The Philippines led only by two, 39-37, at halftime, but scored the first 13 points of the second half on the way to victory.
“The coach told us just to relax and put our heads down,” said Shelley Gupilan, a catalyst in that run. “He told us that they (India) were under pressure. He asked us to just cut down the mistakes.”
“It’s time to invest in Philippine women’s basketball,” said Aquino.
“We are thankful for all the support from SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) 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. Fiba.com