Gilas women come up short vs New Zealand, out of semis race in Fiba Asia Cup
The Philippines turned in its finest outing in the Fiba Women’s Asia Cup on Friday, but still fell short against a bigger and unrelenting enemy in the end.
Gilas Pilipinas faltered against New Zealand, 83-78, in the continental showcase at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre in Australia, missing out on a berth in the tournament’s semifinals and a ticket to the qualifying tournaments for next year’s Summer Olympic Games in Paris.
Rookie Jhazmin Joson and veteran Afril Bernardino led with 15 points each, while Jack Danielle Animam chipped in 14 in the gallant stand that would’ve extended the Nationals’ run in the tournament following a historic win over Chinese Taipei last Wednesday.
“Well, we fell short. It was a good game for us, we competed, and we really feel that we really now can compete against the best of Asia. I just want to say I’m proud of the girls,” national coach Pat Aquino said.
Gilas bucked a slow start and smoothened the gaps in its play during the middle quarters behind the sweet shooting of Jozon and Khate Castillo and the unflinching performance of Animam down low to take a 69-68 lead going into the final frame.
But the Filipinos sputtered when it mattered most, scoring just nine points against New Zealand’s 15 with Charlisse Leger and Tera Reed leading the charge.
Leger ended up with 34 points spiked with six boards and three steals including the one that doomed Gilas’ bid with 47 ticks remaining. Reed, for her part, tossed in 23 more in the scoring effort that put the Tall Ferns on a collision course against six-time winner and reigning champion Japan.
Castillo finished with nine points, Chack Cabinbin seven while Janine Pontejos six. Duke playmaker Vanessa de Jesus, the program’s new recruit, wound up with only four points after starring in many of the Gilas’ prior games.
Still, Aquino is finding some sort of consolation in the effort, believing the performance—along with the historic victory over the Taiwanese that plucked them out of relegation games—should inspire more girls back at home.
“I feel with this performance, more kids back home will be following us,” he said.
Gilas now turns its sights on the loser of the match between Australia and South Korea which is being played as of posting. The Nationals will try to salvage a fifth-place finish at 3 p.m. (Manila time).