Gilas girls hoop hopes relaxation on Afril’s shoulders

Not even the tightest of defenses could stop Afril Bernardino from punching in big numbers for the Philippines. —PSC PHOTO.

Afril Bernardino has punched in enormous numbers for the Philippines within the Southeast Asian Games.—FIBA PHOTO

Afril Bernardino has taken on a heavier load these days for the Gilas Pilipinas girls’s staff within the thirty first Southeast Asian Games.

With nationwide staff star Jack Danielle Animam therapeutic a knee damage after toiling in Serbia as an import, Bernardino has been the nation’s foremost weapon. And boy has she responded, averaging 18 factors and 12 rebounds for the Gilas girls as they hope to increase their reign within the 5-on-5 showcase.

And she has been simply as hard-nosed on protection, logging about three steals and blocks, every, per contest.

Stunning numbers, sure. But they don’t shock nationwide coach Pat Aquino, director of the ladies’s program, anymore.

“Afril is just being Afril,” he instructed the Inquirer through a message on Thursday from Vietnam, earlier than a essential showdown in opposition to the host nation.

Bernardino, 26, has been half of this system’s 1-2 punch beside Animam. But with the latter nonetheless recuperating, the three-time UAAP champion and Most Valuable Player has been tasked to do greater than what’s mirrored on the stat sheets.

“More than her production, she is expected to lead this team,” Aquino mentioned.

It wouldn’t be a shocker if Bernardino carries her teammates’ luggage to the sport as properly. Her impeccable play has opened up alternatives for the opposite gamers to claim themselves.

In Thursday’s 118-87 rout of Vietnam, it was Khate Castillo who led the way in which for the Philippines with 24 factors, constructed on a 7-for-11 capturing from three-point land.

Bernardino had 14 factors, the identical tally notched by newcomer Elisha Bade.

Gilas Pilipinas led by as many as 37 factors to stay the one unbeaten staff within the match.

“All the players [have] been stepping up, which makes Afril’s job a whole lot easier,” Aquino mentioned.

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