Gilas Women suffer loss to China in FIBA Women’s Asia Cup opener

Gilas Pilipinas Women opened their 2021 FIBA Asia Women’s Cup campaign with a humbling 143-52 loss to China Monday at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan.

Afril Bernardino led the Philippines with an all-around effort of 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, as well as being a force on the defensive end with two steals and two blocks. Janine Pontejos was the second-leading scorer with seven points before fouling out. 

China, ranked second in Asia and seventh in the world, used its imposing height to dominate the game right from the opening tip. The Chinese boasted an average height of 6-foot-1, which paled in comparison to Gilas’ 5-foot-6 average. 

“It’s about the preparation. China has always been there. And they’re coming off the [Tokyo] Olympics,” Gilas Pilipinas Women head coach Patrick Aquino said. “We just practiced for like one month. It’s really a big difference in preparation. Aside from that, a lot of struggles, a lot of turnovers for us.”

China dropped 35 points in the opening period while limiting the Philippines to just 17. In the second, the Chinese extended the lead further using a 34-12 quarter and enjoyed a daunting 69-29 heading into halftime. Things were more of the same after the break as the lead ballooned to 108-38 after three periods. 

Clare Castro, the only true center on the roster, was plagued with foul trouble for most of the contest, thinning the Philippine lineup even further. She eventually fouled out with roughly six minutes left in the game and finished with five points and one rebound in 20 minutes of action. 

Despite the huge deficit, Gilas Women were able to pick up their offense in the final quarter. Well-touted rookie Ella Fajardo was able to score back-to-back baskets as she tallied six points. 

Eight players finished in double figures for China spearheaded by Yang Liwei’s 21 points, five assists, and five steals. Li Yueru was right behind with 18 points and six assists. Han Xu, the tallest player on China’s roster at 6-foot-9, put up 17 points and six boards. 

China dominated the glass 55-23 and forced the Philippines into 24 turnovers. Gilas Women only shot 30 percent from the field as points were hard to come by. 

“The girls really tried very hard. Hopefully in the next game we can do better,” Aquino said.

Gilas Women face Australia next on Wednesday (Philippine time) at 12:00 AM.

For more updates on Gilas Women, follow the SBP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To get the latest information on the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021, check out the tournament’s official Facebook page.