THE hardwork and dedication of the Abellana National School (ANS) girls basketball team paid off with a near flawless ride to a gold medal finish in the 25th Cebu City Olympics.
The team might be smaller compared to the previous ANS squad that made it to the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa) and Palarong Pambansa but they have big hearts, the right attitude and dedication to become the best-ever squad.
ANS had a clean sweep in the annual Cebu City Division meet, which was jumped started with an awesome 109-0 win over Tabunan Integrated School.
Worldwide, the victory puts ANS alongside Texas Christian High School, which scored a 100-0 victory over the Dallas Academy in 2009. In 1990, now-retired WNBA superstar Lisa Lesli scored 101 points of Morningside High School of Inglewood, California’s 102-24 win over South Torrance High School.
However, before getting this milestone, head coach Darwin Dinoy admited that they had their own share of hardship.
“It’s hard to organize a girls basketball team. Usually they have zero knowledge of the game and I had to training them to improve their skills. Before this team, my four other teams were only equipped with individual skills, which was the only thing I can impart with the players. But this team right now is blessed because of some people who have shared their time to make them more rounded individually and as a team,” said Dinoy, who also teaches at ANS.
Dinoy is referring to businessman Joel Gajudo, former varsity player Noel Talas and ex-PBA Fred Serafica who helped train the girls for free.
“I am very thankful for my team of coaches, because they took time off from their respective undertakings to help me . I saw their dedication, that is why I entrusted them to the team, which had progressed along way,” Dinoy said.
Gajudo, a member of the Philippine weightlifting team and competed in the Southeast Asian Games, owns the Bohol-based JG Express Philippines Travel and Tours. He provided conditioning and strength programing as well as some financial support to the team. Talas was responsible for the skills development of each player, while Serafica, who played for the Crispa Redmanizers in the late 70s, provided post-up lessons.
ANS also got some support from Jing-jing Rama, the brother of Cebu City mayor Mike Rama.
In that game against Tabunan, ANS played full court press after every basket made.
But Tabunan was not totally denied from scoring a point as ANS was in a penalty situation in every quarter. Unfortunately, the mountain baranggay school could not cash in their free throws.
One of the vital cogs of the team is starting point guard and team captain Ma. Kassandra Bayking, who has been playing basketball against boys since she was 10 years old.
Eager to train
“We have better teamwork and discipline compared to the previous team, which I was also a part of. I will try to lead the team to make it to the Palarong Pambansa again and make our school proud,” Bayking said.
Lading scorer and consistent shooter Niña Cuadero, who was named MVP in the City Olympics, agreed and said she will help Bayking take the team to Palarong Pambansa in April.
“I believe this team will reach the Palaro, their chances are bigger because this group is more disciplined that the previous teams who had no focus. And this team works hard and are very interested to train,” said ANS athletic director Francis Ramirez.
Aside from Bayking and Cuadero, the rest of the team members are Yereva Gilamon, Latch Mae Hipolito, Florence Jil Talas, Ardelyn Delantes, Kathrine Kaye Pacada, Darling Ragasajo, Michelle Faith Incierto, Phoebe Estal, Daphne Nardo and Nicole Rose Hipolito.
All of them are enrolled in the special sports curriculum, giving them additional time to train and practice together.
Dinoy and Ramirez also thank principal Dr. Severina Chin for the support she extended to the girls basketball team.
Part of their preparation for the Cviraa meet in Naga City on Jan. 31-Feb. 6 is to play teams that are older, bigger and quicker at the Cebu Hoops Ladies League (CHLL) and to hold pick up games against the boys.