Gilas Pilipinas Women suffered a 143-52 loss at the hands of China to open their campaign in the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup on Monday.
But there were clear positive takeaways for Gilas even if China dominated throughout the game.
Gilas Women veteran Afril Bernardino stood her ground against the larger and stronger Chinese national team, filling up the stat sheet with a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Bernardino, who suffered cramps late in the game, did everything she could on offense and defense. Gilas Women head coach Patrick Aquino said her stellar individual performance was a hopeful sign that they stand a chance against their remaining opponents.
Another bright spot for the women’s national team was Ella Fajardo, who scored Gilas’ last five points—a triple and a floater. She ended her national team debut with six points and one assist.
Gilas kept in step with China for the first few minutes of the game before it slipped away from their hands. They committed a total of 24 turnovers which resulted in 39 fast break points for China.
Despite the huge loss, Aquino stressed that it was important for Gilas Women—especially for the young members of the team—to gain experience competing at the highest level.
“Everybody has to have a new start, and I think the Philippines is just looking forward to the future of young Filipina ballers,” Aquino said in the postgame interview.
“The exposure they’re getting here will be a lot greater for us in the future. Bringing in young players at this point in time is probably the best time for the future of women’s basketball in the Philippines.”
Next up for Gilas Women is Australia, which is coming off a 76-65 victory over Chinese Taipei. The Australian team is ranked higher than China but decided not to send their Olympians to the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.
“Coach said that we played our hardest, but I know for a fact, I can speak on behalf of the team, that we have more to bring. We just ask for your continuous support because we have more in us,” said Fajardo.
The game between Gilas Women and Australia is on Wednesday (Philippine time) at 12:00 AM and will be broadcast live on One Sports, One Sports+, and smart.gigafest.
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.