MANILA, Philippines -- "This is just the beginning."
This was the sentiment of Filipina cager Gabby Ramos after she made her national team debut in Division B of the FIBA Under-16 Women's Asian Championship, where Gilas Pilipinas finished in third place.
Ramos was among the breakout stars for the Gilas Girls in the tournament, debuting with a massive 27-point, 20-rebound effort against Indonesia in the group phase. The 6-foot teenager averaged 16 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 3.4 steals during the tournament.
"My performances were the least of my concerns going into this tournament, but I'm definitely proud of what I was able to do here for my country and for myself," the 15-year-old forward said.
"Some performances were definitely better than others, but each one brought something new to my attention. I have a lot of things to work on at home, so that next time I will be better and more consistent," she added.
"Don't worry -- there will definitely be a next time," Ramos guaranteed. "This is just the beginning. You'll be seeing a lot of me in the coming years, in multiple competitions."
Equally excited was Kristan Yumul, another player who shone for the Gilas Girls. Yumul tied a tournament record when she torched Syria for 33 points in their group round game, and averaged 21.6 points for the tournament.
The 5-foot-9 guard shot a blistering 45.3% from long distance in five games, including a 6-of-8 performance from beyond the arc in the third place game against Lebanon where she finished with 20 points.
"I do want to continue playing for the national team in the future competitions," said Yumul, who turned 17 last June 24.
"In this tournament, I actually didn't know what to expect, and I also didn't know how my game was going to turn out with the different level of competition," she admitted. "Overall, I'm proud of myself, but I know there is so much more I need to work on and continuously put in the work for more events in the future."
The Filipinas had fallen short of their goal of gaining promotion into Division A, after a painful defeat to Samoa in the semifinals. They had crushed Samoa, 94-65, when they played in the group stages but went cold in the semis and absorbed an 88-73 defeat.
Samoa went on to win the tournament and advanced to Division A after a 79-76 win against Syria in the final. Meanwhile, the Philippines drew consolation from a 90-68 rout of Lebanon to complete the podium.
Gilas coach Brian Rosario commended the players for making a quick recovery from their semifinal defeat and ensuring that they ended the competition on a winning note.
"Our sights were always set to win the championship and move to Division A, which is why we were so disappointed after our game versus Samoa," he said. "[But] our team understood that they were going to be remembered by how they responded from that devastating loss."
"We knew no one was going to feel sorry for us and that we had to come out strong in order to place in the Top 3," he added.