CHANGSHA, China - The Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 women's team qualified for the quarterfinals in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup as they finished the Pool Stage with one win and one loss Friday.
In their first game of the pool stage, the Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 women's team struggled to compete against the more cohesive Japanese side as they lost 20-8.
Japan is the fourth-ranked federation in women's basketball, behind only Russia, China, and Mongolia, and they have invested heavily on the development of 3x3 as they as they are also fourth on the men's side behind Serbia, Russia, and Slovenia.
The Japanese unit composed of Minami Iju, Kiho Miyashita, Risa Nishioka, and Mio Shinozaki were smaller than the Filipinas so they used their speed advantage. They put the Philippines' defense off-balance with ball screens and they read situations well either getting the advantage through drives or passes to the roller.
The Filipinas were not able to use their size as Japan's defense swarmed all over them.
Janine Pontejos led the fight with three points, while Jack Danielle Animam and Afril Bernardino added two each. Clare Castro finished with only a single point of 1 of 5 shooting from the field.
"They are one of the top countries in 3x3 for a reason but I really believe we could compete against them," said head coach Patrick Aquino. "It just so happened that they got going first so our team lost their confidence."
In a must-win situation against Sri Lanka, the Filipinas played at their best. They towered over their opponents and they used this advantage to the hilt with Bernardino and Castro combining for 15 points, mostly in the shaded area.
The Filipinas rebounded with a 21-6 victory that turned out to be enough to send them into the quarterfinals after Japan eliminated Sri Lanka 22-11 later in the night.
"I reminded the girls that we did not use our advantage in the first game. We played Japan's game," Aquino explained. "But against Sri Lanka, that was not the case. We really took the ball to the rim and Clare was able to p