MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas Women made easy work of a larger Kazakh team, 83-59, on Wednesday night for a dazzling debut at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
The Philippines used a strong second quarter, inflicting damage both inside and out, while limiting Kazakhstan – with four players over 6 feet tall – to just nine points at the Shaoxing Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium.
Janine Pontejos led the way with 21 points made up of seven triples, Khate Castillo scored 15 and Afril Bernardino another 11 points in the triumph that also served as a milestone for the national program.
This is the Philippines’ first-ever appearance in women’s basketball of the Asian Games under the leadership of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Cornerstone Jack Danielle Animam, Gilas’ only 6-foot-1, finished with 12 points and did most of the work cleaning the glass with a game-best 14 rebounds.
Gilas finished with 53 rebounds to his foe’s 47.
“Height has always been our problem, but I think we have advantages that we can use against them (the Kazakhs),” Animam told the Inquirer on the eve of the match.
“I’m excited to play, especially because this is our first ever Asian Games, but you know we’ve been playing at a much higher level of competition. It may only be our first time, but this feeling (of excitement) is not our first time,” she added.
Gilas also outscored the Kazakhs in assists, 19-10; and in case of theft 15-5.
Tamara Kuzmina and Anna Bezgodova both had 12 points for Kazakhstan, while Daria Koroleva both scored 11 points.
Next up for the Philippines in Group B is Hong Kong, coming off a 118-46 loss to powerhouse Japan. The two countries will compete this Friday at 1:30 PM (Manila time).