Afril Bernardino recently took on a heavy load for the Gilas Pilipinas women’s team at the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
With national team star Jack Daniel Animam recovering from a knee injury after working as an importer in Serbia, Bernardino has become the country’s main weapon. And the boy responded, averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Glass women as they hope to extend their reign in the 5-on-5 showcase.
And he has almost three steals and blocks in each contest, each, just as hard on the defense in every contest.
Stunning numbers, yes. But they are no longer surprised by national coach Pat Aquino, director of the women’s program.
He told Inquirer in a message from Vietnam on Thursday before a critical showdown against the host country, “Africa is just becoming Africa.”
Bernardino, 26, has been half of the 1-2 punches in the program next to Anime. But with the latter still recovering, the three-time UAAP champion and most valuable player has been tasked with doing more than just reflecting on the status sheet.
“More than his production, he is expected to lead the team,” Aquino said.
It would not be a shock if Bernardino also carried the bags of his teammates in the game. His impeccable play has opened up opportunities for other players to assert themselves.
With Vietnam’s 118-87 goal on Thursday, Castillo led the way for the Philippines with 24 points in the sector, building on 7 for 11 from three-point ground.
Bernardino had 14 points, the same number as newcomer Elisha Budd.
Gilas Pilipinas led the team with 37 points as the only unbeaten team in the tournament.
“All the players [have] We are moving forward step by step, which makes Afril’s work much easier, ”said Aquino.
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