MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines' campaign in the FIBA Women's Asia Cup got off to a flat start, but young point guard Ella Fajardo is optimistic that the Gilas Pilipinas Women can only improve from there.
Matched up against a Chinese team that is ranked seventh in the world by FIBA, the Gilas Women suffered a massive 143-52 loss, Monday evening in Amman, Jordan.
Fajardo, who was making her debut for the senior team, tallied six points. Veteran Afril Bernardino led the team with 17 markers in 30 minutes of action.
"Coach (Pat Aquino) said that we played our hardest, but I know for a fact, I can speak on behalf of the team that we have more to bring," the 18-year-old Fajardo told reporters after the game.
Aquino admitted that the lack of preparation was a clear factor in the blowout loss. While China was in form after having competed in the Olympic Games last month, the Filipinas had not played competitive basketball in over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They were only able to prepare for the FIBA Women's Asia Cup for a month through a training camp in Lipa, Batangas.
"It's really a big difference in preparation. But aside from that, a lot of struggles, a lot of turnovers for us. But for a fact that the girls really tried very hard, and hopefully the next game, we'll do better," he said.
Fajardo, who will play Division 1 basketball for Fairleigh Dickinson University, stressed that they can perform a lot better, even as their next opponent is another top-ranked team -- Australia.
"We just ask for your continued support, because we have more in us. Things that we can control, really, getting back on defense, for example. That's something that we can control," she pointed out.
Australia, ranked third in the world, took a 76-65 win over Chinese-Taipei on Monday behind a 13-point, 11-assist performance from Sami Whitcomb, who plays for the New York Liberty in the WNBA.
Game time is on September 29, 12 a.m. in Manila.
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