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Castillo heats up at right time as Gilas Women remain in Asia Cup Division A

Khate Castillo and the rest of Gilas Pilipinas Women’s young guns did not put to waste the work put into by Afril Bernardino and Andrea Tongco six years ago.

Not today, they said.

Despite figuring in three morale-busting losses the past three days, Gilas still found the resolve to pick themselves up against India in the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup battle for seventh game. They took a 74-70 victory to remain in Division A, Friday morning (Manila time) at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan.

“I’m very, very happy with the girls because they never stopped competing,” expressed Gilas head coach Patrick Aquino. “The past three games, we were struggling. But today, they remained together.”

Down by as much as 11 points in the contest, Gilas clung to a 67-65 lead with 3:30 left. That’s when Castillo decided to take over.

The De La Salle University product – who currently plays for Glutagence Glow Boosters – knocked down back-to-back treys to give the Philippines a good cushion. Of course, one of the assists came from a Tongco assist.

Shireen Vijay Limaye and Pushpa Senthil Kumar still sliced the lead down to four with 45 ticks left. But India did not have enough weapons in its arsenal to close out the game as the loss relegated it to Division B.

Castillo had 22 points built on seven triples. Meanwhile, fellow sniper Janine Pontejos also had 22 points with five rebounds, three steals, and two assists.

2021-fiba-womens-asia-cup-gilas-def-india-janine-pontejos Castillo heats up at right time as Gilas Women remain in Asia Cup Division A Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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It was reminiscent of their 2019 game against India. That saw Gilas take a 92-78 win also behind the shooting of Castillo and Pontejos.

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“Every time, we have a game, I know Khate would be stepping up. I just told her to play her game and take the shot if you’re open,” said Aquino.

“Same thing that happened in 2019. Back then it was Ria [Nabalan] and Khate with Janine also,” the tactician continued as that trio combined for 12 triples in that 2019 game with Castillo knocking down five.

Bernardino glued the team together with 11 rebounds, nine points, seven assists, four steals, and four blocks.

It was an emotional victory for the Filipinas, who only had two weeks to train for the tournament due to strict quarantine measures in the country. They also had no tryouts due to travel restrictions. Then they were handed crushing losses by China, Australia, and Chinese-Taipei – defeats that had an average margin of 65.33 points.

And the Filipinas were sluggish in the first half of the contest against a team that they blew out just two years ago in the very same tournament, falling behind 34-39.

In the third quarter, Gilas Women were able to turn things around with their scrappy defense; the sniping of Castillo and Pontejos; and, of course, the heart of Bernardino.

2021-fiba-womens-asia-cup-gilas-def-india-janine-pontejos-and-afril-bernardino Castillo heats up at right time as Gilas Women remain in Asia Cup Division A Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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Gilas Women’s surge continued early on in the final frame. They led by as much as 11 points, 67-56, behind big baskets Chack Cabinbin and Camille Clarin.

India was still able to cut the lead down to two. Then Castillo decided to take over.

Clarin, who only played 10 minutes versus Chinese-Taipei, had eight points, four rebounds, and two steals. Clare Castro had six rebounds, four points, and two blocks while Tongco also had six boards.

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On the other hand, Pushpa Senthil Kumar paced India with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Limaye had 10 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, and three steals.

Pushpa’s sister Sathiya and Madhu Kumari added 12 and 10 markers, respectively.

The Scores:

Philippines 74 – Pontejos 22, Castillo 22, Bernardino 9, Clarin 8, Castro 4, Tongco 3, Cabinbin 3, Nabalan 3, Fajardo 0, Prado 0, Cayabyab 0.

India 70 – Senthil Kumar P 15, Senthil Kumar S 12, Limaye 10, Kumari 10, Masilamani 9, Arvind 7, Nixon 7, Yadav 0, Rani 0.

Quarterscores: 13-19, 34-39, 55-52, 74-70.

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