The new breed of Gilas Pilipinas women’s squad showed a lot of promise in its return in the William Jones Cup tournament only to fall short against Chinese Taipei Blue, 85-89, Friday night at the Taipei Heping Gymnasium.
Malia Bambrick, the team’s newest naturalized player, struggled and finished with only two points in her debut game with the national team, but the Filipinas got a huge game from mainstay Janine Pontejos, who erupted for 19 points, including a steady 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
Kacey dela Rosa, also a newcomer in the team, had a solid first game as a member of the Gilas squad. She ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards while forming up a formidable tandem up front with Jack Animam, who had 13 points, seven boards and four steals.
Jhazmine Joson, Dela Rosa’s teammate at Ateneo, also tallied 13 markers as she picked up from where she left off in the previous FIBA Women’s Asia Cup where the Filipinas had their best ever finish in the tournament at sixth place.
Affril Bernardino added 10 points for Gilas, who fought tooth-and-nail against one of the two local teams competing in this prestigious international invitational tournament.
Despite the loss, head coach Pat Aquino saw a lot of upside in the team now composed of a new group to complement the mainstays of the squad. It also serves as their tryout of sorts for the coming Asian Games in Hangzhou slated 23 September to 8 October.
“We saw a lot of upsides and one of them is we’ve proven that we can still compete even for a new batch of players. But we just turned the ball over a lot and we had misjudgment on our part in the dying part of the game,” wrote Aquino via Messenger.
“We’ll learn from that and be composed in tight-game situations.”
The Philippines returns to action on Sunday to face Iran, a first-time participant in this tournament, at 3 p.m.
Gilas Pilipinas is looking to atone from its previous showing here four years ago when the squad failed to win a single game, but Aquino believes it’s only a matter of time for the Filipinas to hit pay dirt.