Maroon hoopers to join Gilas Women’s Asian Games debut

Most recent UP Women’s Basketball Team (UP WBT) prized recruits Louna Ozar and Camille Nolasco are set to join the Philippine Women’s National Basketball Team on its first-ever Asian Games stint in Hangzou, China.

Coached by UP alumnus Patrick Aquino, both Gilas Youth standouts Ozar and Nolasco will see action with the 12women Filipino lineup that will clash against Kazakhstan on Sept. 27 for their opening match.

The squad will then battle Hong Kong on Sept. 29, and 2020 Olympic silver medalist Japan on Oct. 1. to complete the group stage of the tournament.

The Filipino-French UP WBT rookie Ozar said she takes pride in wearing the Gilas jerseys at the international stage.

“I’m really excited for the competition. It’s an honor to represent the country and UP at 19 years old,” said the 5-foot-8 Ozar in an online interview with Tinig ng Plaridel.

“When I play for the Philippines, I represent UP too,” she added.

The Camiguin native averaged 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and two assists during the Philippines’ run at the FIBA Women’s U18 Asian Championship Division B in September last year.

Ozar was also part of the 2023 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup that ended last July and the 42nd William Jones Cup last August.

Louna Ozar (left) and Camille Nolasco (right) at the University of the Philippines Diliman Varsity Training Center last May 2023. Photo by UP Women’s Basketball Team

Meanwhile, this will be the 18-year-old Nolasco’s first appearance in the senior squad as she played her previous tenures with the youth team.

A mainstay of the Gilas girls’ crew, the Miriam College standout registered 7.2 markers, 3.4 dimes and three steals a game during her 2022 FIBA U18 campaign with UP compatriot Ozar, where they grabbed the bronze medal.

The 5-foot-3 Nolasco also participated in the 2019 Jr. NBA Global Championship for the Asia Pacific team and 2022 Basketball Without Borders Asia. 

Nolasco is still finishing her high school studies and will be eligible for State U in UAAP Season 87.

Meanwhile ,due to her Gilas duties at the 19th Asiad, Ozar will miss her debut with the UP WBT, as the crew takes on the Adamson Lady Falcons on Oct. 1. 

Following a 6-8 record last UAAP season, Ozar and Nolasco are set to spearhead UP’s way out of the title drought and book its first Final Four ticket since Season 71.

Other State U student-athletes that will represent the Philippine flag in the Asian Games are Vladimir Eguia (Baseball), Kennedy Torres (Baseball), Hagen Topacio (Shooting), Juliana Gomez (Fencing), Jian Bautista (Fencing), Amaya Cojuangco (Archery), Jayvee Ferrer (Judo), Ylwynn Gimena (Judo), Carl Aseneta (Judo), Jamie Lim (Karate), and Kharl Sha (Rowing).

The quadrennial multi-sport meet opened on September 23 and will take place until October 8.