Ella Fajardo and the rest of Gilas Pilipinas Women’s rookies received a harsh welcome by China in the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.
The world no. 7 squad is coming off a fifth-place finish in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It never let up in the 40-minute affair against the young Filipinas, dealing them a crushing 143-52 defeat.
For the 18-year-old Fajardo, she admitted that rust came into play during the contest.
“Coach [Patrick Aquino] said that we played our hardest, but I know for a fact and I can speak on behalf of the team that we have more to bring,” said the floor general who is set to play for Division I school Farleigh Dickenson.
Besides already being overwhelmed by the skill level China possesses, the Philippines were only got to train together as a full team for two weeks before heading to Amman, Jordan.
“It’s about the preparation,” admitted Aquino. “China has been always there and they’re coming off from the Olympics.
“Us, right now, we just practiced for one month. So it’s really a big difference in preparation.”
It showed in the contest as Gilas were outrebounded by the Lady Dragons, 23-55, while committing 24 turnovers.
Afril Bernardino was the sole double-digit scorer for Gilas, tallying 17 points with seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
All in all, Gilas shot just 21-of-68 from the field and went just 6-of-24 from downtown.
For Fajardo, the team can’t sulk on this loss as they have Australia next – a team that also competed in the Olympics.
“We have more in us. There are things that we can control, really, like getting back on defense for example,” said Fajardo, who had six points in the defeat.
“That’s something that we can control.”
Aquino, on the other hand, offered that having games like these will only help the likes of Fajardo and the National University trio of Camille Clarin, Kristine Cayabyab, and Ann Pingol gain more experience for future iterations of Gilas Women.
“Bringing in young players at this point of time is probably the best time for the future of women’s basketball in the Philippines,” he said.
“Hopefully, they’ll get more comfortable in the coming games and show their wares and why they’re here.”