WOMEN’S wheelchair basketball, anyone?
Four differently-abled women with the same passion for basketball and two purpose-driven coaches have banded together to form the country’s first-ever women’s wheelchair basketball team that could someday represent the country in international competitions.
The team name: Pilipinas Lady Warriors.
“It’s our dream coming true,” said women’s wheelchair basketball team coach Vernon Perea during the 18th “Usapang Sports” presented by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) at the National Press Club in Intramuros.
“Unlike with the men’s team, we formed this team only a few weeks ago. Our plan really is to showcase the talents and skills of our female players and be recognized,” said Perea, who was accompanied in the weekly forum supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, National Press Club, PAGCOR and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drink by his long-time assistant coach Harry Solanoy.
Perea said the four players — Patricia Camille Castro, Cecille Naceno, Kymberlee Dangayo and Jean de los Reyes — have what it takes to become the pioneering members of the women’s wheelchair basketball team.
“These four women have different inspiring stories to tell and I believe they best represent the character of the team. Sila na din yun magsisilbing tulay para makahikayat kami ng iba pang mga babaeng PWD na makakasama sa national team,” he added.
“Actually this is the right time to form the national women’s team, especially with the international federation now pushing for the development of women’s wheelchair basketball.”
In fact, Perea, Solanoy and the four Lady Warriors took part in the second Intrrnayoonal Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Asia Oceania Women’s Development Camp held in National Paralympic Training Centre in Suphan Buri, Thailand.
The five-day development camp attracted over 70 women from 10 countries — Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Australia, India and the Philippines.
Paralympic gold medal-winning coach Holger Glinicki of Germany and player-turned-coach Troy Sachs of Australia supervised the camp.
“Nakatutuwa dahil maganda ang impression sa ating apat na players sa camp. Nagulat sila dahil yun mga atleta natin ay bago pa lang nauupo sa wheelchair at humahawak ng bola. Yun Australian players na lalaro sa World Cup wheelchair basketball, sinabihan ang mga players natin na babantayan sila dahil siguradong makakaharap in the future.”
What’s next for the team?
“After Holy Week, we have to call for a tryout to complete the team. We just have to look for venues. Then we have to look for sponsors para sa mga needs ng team.”
But Perea explained that forming a wheelchair basketball team is different from a regular team.
“There are classifiation points depending on disability to consider. May handicapping. Di lang center, guard or forward ang hinahanap. Like in Camille’s case, she is an amputee, so four points sya dahil mas malakas ang power nya. Ang one point ay yun may mga spinal injury, na ang power from chest up lang at walang balance.”
“The coaches are limited to field five players na dapat 14 points ang total. Pag lumagpas, technical ka na. Pag nilabas ko player na 1.5 yun points, dapat 1.5 din ang ipapalit. So as coach, babantayan ko y7n psti na din yun sa kabilang team”