//Basketball

Next Woman Up: 6 Players To Watch From The Gilas Girls’ U18 Asia Cup Championship 

Here are six players who stood out in the Gilas Girls’ sweep of the FIBA U18 Women’s Asia Cup that culminated in a Division 1 slot.

The Gilas Pilipinas Girls’ U18 squad is now headed to Division A following their sweep of the 2024 FIBA U18 Women’s Asia Cup on Sunday. As always, certain players stood out in that run, who will likely be impact players in both the pro leagues and the Gilas Womens’ teams down the line. 

With this, here are six of those Gilas Girls U18 players to look out for after that historic run. Already showing immense potential early on, we’ll be keeping our tabs on these ladies as they further sharpen the strengths they have at such a young age. 

Naomi Panganiban 
Gilas girls u18 players to watch: Naomi Panganiban
(Photo Credit: FIBA Asia)

Two years after her Gilas Girls U16 debut, Naomi Panganiban blossomed as the U18 Nationals’ best player. Within four games, she averaged a team-high 15 points accompanied by four assists and 3.3 steals. 

Numbers aside, Naomi’s polished handles were also showcased throughout the tilt, which allowed her to create her own lanes to the basket. Viewed as a threat by opposing defenses, this also created better looks for the other Gilas Girls, which Naomi unselfishly utilized by making the extra pass. 

Despite being a slasher, Naomi does have a pretty-looking jumpshot, too. And at only 18 years of age, she’ll have the luxury of time to develop the confidence to accompany already-refined mechanics. 

Naomi was also solid on the defensive end. On top of her doggedness, Naomi’s biggest asset is her ability to disrupt the passing lane, being able to make the right reads which is evidenced by her 3.3 steals per contest. 

Currently, Naomi Panganiban is committed to playing for San Diego State University. Already a walking bucket as an 18-year-old, now we’ll see how much more growth she’ll get in the US-NCAA Division 1. 

Gabriela Ramos 
Gilas girls u18 players to watch: Gabby Ramos
(Photo Credit: FIBA Asia)

What she lacks in height and physique, Gabby Ramos compensates with hustle and her exceptional ability to track the ball down. The six-footer’s prowess was best seen against Lebanon and Samoa, where she beat out their more physically imposing bigs. 

As a result, Gabby was the third-best rebounder in the U18 Asia Cup, averaging 11.3 rebounds including four offensive boards per game (good for top three).

While rebounding has been her strength since U16, it’s now interesting to see how Gabby will fare against more physically gifted opponents after this U18 championship. But again, if we base on her recent showing, then we shouldn’t be too worried down the line.

On top of that, Gabby is also a willing shooter, taking open looks from both the middy and three-point range. It’s still streaky at best, but it’ll be another of her best assets as she grows into her game further. 

Ava Fajardo 
(Photo Credit: FIBA Asia)

From being the U16’s top player eleven months ago, Ava Fajardo was the Gilas Girls’ U18 squad’s secondary playmaker and ball-handler. From the looks of it, Ava is shaping up to be more of a traditional point now that she progresses through the ranks.

For her U18 debut, Ava was the squad’s best playmaker, notching a team-high 4.5 assists, and was fourth-best for the whole U18 Women’s Asia Cup. On top of this, Ava has also used her handles to break down opposing defenses, primarily to create open looks for the Gilas Girls. 

But at the same time, that’s not to discount Ava’s scoring prowess. With her squad going cold against Samoa, Ava proceeded to take charge, scoring a team-high 19 points to go along with four rebounds. 

And while the best is yet to come, Ava has continued to shoot the triple, which should be a good foundation as she’ll have the confidence to build on over time.

Tiffany Reyes
Gilas girls u18 players to watch: Tiffany Reyes
(Photo Credit: FIBA Asia)

The daughter of former PBA player Jay-R Reyes, Tiffany Reyes is an interesting prospect with her length and shooting. Despite being limited to catch-and-shoot triples, it’s easy to see Tiffany’s confidence, only needing a bit of daylight to let it fly. Backing this up are her numbers, where she went 9 for 29 throughout the Women’s Asia Cup. 

Thirty-one percent shooting, yes, but it’s a good reflection of Tiffany’s willingness. After all, watching the games showed us too that these were all “good shots” as she found her spots on the floor. 

A key factor here is Tiffany’s off-ball instincts, almost instantly repositioning herself once she catches her defender ball watching, or attempting to help against a drive. As a result, she got herself tons of open looks whenever she was on the floor for the U18 squad.

As mentioned, length is another plus for Tiffany, who’s listed at 6-foot-2. Accompanying that is her wingspan she excellently utilized to disrupt her defensive assignments in Shenzhen. 

Simply put, this kid’s got tons of upside…and she’s only 14 years of age showing her worth in the U18 ranks. 

Alicia Villanueva
Gilas girls u18 players to watch: Alicia Villanueva
(Photo Credit: FIBA Asia)

A shooting guard from the National University pipeline, Alicia Villanueva was this U18 squad’s second-best scorer, averaging 11.8 points throughout the tournament. Notably, Alicia created scoring opportunities through off-ball movement, making the necessary cuts, and repositioning to get herself good looks.

One of the Nationals’ top shooters (6 out of 16 from deep), Alicia also exploited opponents’ respect for her jumper, utilizing the pump fake to get herself an open lane to the basket.

Alyssa Rodriguez
Gilas girls u18 players to watch: Alyssa Rodriguez
(Photo Credit: FIBA Asia)

Safe to say that among the players, Alyssa Rodriguez was one of this Gilas Girls’ U18 squad’s best on-ball defenders. From what we’ve observed, she’s someone who picked up opposing ball-handlers once they crossed the halfcourt line, and stuck to them until they were forced to give the ball up. While she does need work against screens, the future is bright for this kid as a defensive guard.

Within the offense, Alyssa acts as a secondary ball handler to Naomi Fajardo and Ava Fajardo. As of now, she’s mostly scored through catch-and-shoot triples, including her 22-point finale against Lebanon built on six huge triples.

While it’s a small sample size though, Alyssa has also shown signs of decent finishing, having enough speed, and awareness to get to the basket. 

And if all goes well, this Alyssa might just develop into a solid 3 and D guard, both for Gilas Womens’ and her squads in the amateur ranks.

Banner Image from FIBA Asia.


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