Gilas 3x3 women's falls short vs. Australia, but gains much-needed experience

CHANGSHA, China - The Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 women's team bowed out of the 2019 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup after absorbing a 21-16 loss against Australia in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

The team, led by head coach Patrick Aquino, was still all smiles after the match knowing they gave the powerhouse team a good match while also getting valuable experience in the field of 3x3 competitions.

The Philippine team held a 4-1 win-loss tally heading into the quarterfinals. They defeated Samoa, Vanuatu, and Chinese Taipei in the Qualifying Stage before dropping their game against Japan and rebounding with a victory against Sri Lanka in the Pool Stage to qualify for the top eight.

Australia, on the other end, topped their tough pool after defeating defending champion New Zealand and top-seeded China.

Gilas started out well with Janine Pontejos heating up early from the outside, scoring on back-to-back two-point shots. However, Australia went on a 6-1 run that allowed them to get the advantage.

The Filipinas momentarily tasted the lead midway through the match with Afril Bernardino and Jack Danielle Animam punishing Australia's interior defense with drives to the basket.

The Aussies regained control as their shots started to fall from the outside. Going in penalty, the Philippines had no other recourse but to play extra physical as their opponents kept giving the ball to whoever the 5-foot-6 Pontejos was guarding in the shaded area.

An and-one play from Alice Kunek ended the campaign of the Gilas 3x3 women's team in the quarterfinals.

"I'm still so proud of this team," said Aquino after the match. "We have very limited experience in 3x3 and I don't think a lot of people expected us to be here. The girls showed that they were not just happy to be in the quarterfinals because they gave Australia a really good fight."

Pontejos led the fight for the Filipinas with eight markers in the contest but she slowed down in the latter half as Australia focused their defense on stopping here.

"Our experience in the World Cup really helped us out because we learned from our opponents and we were able to use that knowledge here," said the sharpshooter.

"I hope our performance gets us more opportunities to compete in other 3x3 competitions," said Animam. "I think we showed that we could compete against any team even with our limited experience so we can do even better if in the future."

Animam will fly out earlier than the rest of the group to attend her graduation at National University.

The squad will head home Monday night and rejoin the rest of their teammates to continue their preparations for the upcoming Jones Cup and Southeast Asian Games.