Animam Animam in action. FIBA photo

Pinays bow to Kiwis

July 1, 2023 Ed Andaya 373 views

THE Philippines gave New Zealand fits before dropping a 78-83 decision in the play-in game for a place in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup semifinals yesterday at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre in Australia.

Ranged against the world No. 29 Tall Ferns, the Gilas Women kept the game close before losing steam in their bid to advance to the Final Four and an outright spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifiers.

“We just fell short. It was a good game for us, we competed,” national coach Pat Aquino said. “We felt that, really now, we can compete with the best of the best in Asia and hopefully when we come back, we’ll be stronger. I just wanna say I’m proud of the girls, they did well.”

The Philippines, which will remain in the continental tournament’s Division A, is headed to the fifth-place classification phase where it will face either Australia or South Korea today.

Veterans Afril Bernardino and Jack Animam led the Gilas Women’s valiant fight.

Bernardino logged 15 points and eight rebounds, while being a force on the defensive end with two steals and two blocks.

Animam, meanwhile, collected her second straight double-double in the competition with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Fresh off the historic first win in pool play, an inspired Philippines side gave New Zealand all it could handle.

After being down 41-45, at halftime, the Gilas Women unleashed a blitzing 9-0 run capped off by a Chack Cabinbin layup to momentarily take control of the contest.

The Philippines was able to survive Charlisse Leger-Walker’s 14-point third quarter explosion to maintain the lead at 69-68 entering the payoff period.

It was a nip-and-tuck affair from then on as both teams traded blows in the final quarter.

The Tall Ferns, however, were able to create separation in the endgame as Charlisse Leger-Walker delivered with clutch baskets to frustrate the Gilas Women’s hopes of pulling off a massive upset.

The Philippines also got a huge boost off the bench from its shooters, with the trio of Khate Castillo, Janine Pontejos and Jhaz Joson combining for seven of the team’s nine three-pointers.

“I’m actually really proud of my teammates. We did our best to compete,” said Bernardino.

Charlisse Leger-Walker eventually finished with a tournament-best 34 points, six assists, three steals, Akiene Tera Reed added 23 points and seven boards while Penina Davidson contributed 10 points and 11 boards for the Tall Ferns.

New Zealand will face defending five-time champion Japan in the semifinals tonight.

The scores:

New Zealand (93) – Leger-Walker C. 34, Reed 23, Davidson 10, Tupaea 5, Dalton 4, Beck 3, Tamilo 2, Leger-Walker K. 2, McGoldrick 0, Stockill 0.
Philippines (78) – Bernardino 15, Joson 15, Animam 14, Castillo 9, Cabinbin 7, Pontejos 6, Ozar 4, De Jesus 4, Surada 2, Fajardo 2.
Quarterscores: 21-15, 41-45, 69-68, 83-78.