Gilas Pilipinas Women showed a more promising performance but they eventually succumbed to the Australia Opals, 120-56, for their second loss in the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Wednesday at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan.
Janine Pontejos led the Philippines with 13 points, including 10 in the second half. Kristine Cayabyab also finished in double-digits with 10 points, while Afril Bernardino continued to impress with eight points and three rebounds.
“It’s really hard. It’s a tough group that we’re in,” said Aquino after the loss. “We try to get there. We try to improve everyday, every game and we hope we can be competitive.”
Australia raced to an 11-0 start, forcing Gilas coach Pat Aquino to call an early timeout. The team was more composed afterwards, with rookie Camille Clarin sparking a run that put Gilas within 10 late in the first quarter.
Gilas failed to sustain the momentum as Australia went on a 15-0 outburst to open the second quarter. The lead ballooned to 31 points at halftime, with the Philippines struggling to contain Australia’s hot shooting.
The Opals continued to blow the game wide open in the second half. They kept their double-digit lead throughout the game and held the Philippines to only 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Gilas Women displayed better effort on defense compared to their opening loss to China. They also shot better from beyond the arc, making 11 of their 35 attempts. Australia, however, shot even better with a 13-for-33 clip from downtown and 51.2 percent overall.
Keely Froling topped for Australia with a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds. Lauren Nicholson also tallied 21 points, along with six rebounds, and three assists. WNBA player Sami Whitcomb posted eight points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
Gilas still struggled to manage their foul trouble, committing 29 fouls compared to Australia’s 11. The Opals also took advantage of the height disparity as they dominated the boards, 67-25.
Gilas Women are set to battle with Chinese Taipei on Thursday at 12:00 AM (Philippine time) for their final match in the group phase.
Both the Philippines and Chinese Taipei are still winless in Group B, while Australia and China remain undefeated. Gilas needs to win to avoid playing in the classification match for 7th-8th place against the other group’s bottom-finisher.
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