Kacey Dela Rosa was as good as advertised for Gilas Pilipinas.
However, the debut of the UAAP Season 85 Rookie of the Year for the Philippines was spoiled by emerging rival Chinese-Taipei, which took a close 89-85 win to cap the opening day of the 2023 William Jones Cup on Saturday evening at Heping Basketball Gymnasium.
Dela Rosa produced a stellar line of 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field with 10 rebounds.
With her joining hands with veterans like Janine Pontejos, Afril Bernardino, and Jack Animam, Gilas Women erased a 30-17 deficit in the first quarter, cutting the lead down to 51-40 at the half and 69-61 entering the final frame.
Eventually, the Philippine were able to get a three-point lead with under four minutes left.
However, Chen Yenyu took charge for Chinese-Taipei, delivering in the clutch to give the home team the win.
Pontejos led the way for the Philippines with 19 points built on four treys while Animam tallied 13 points and seven rebounds.
Bernardino produced 10 points, five assists, and three rebounds while Dela Rosa’s fellow Blue Eagle Jhazmin Joson got 14 markers as well.
The last time these two teams met was back in the Asia Cup that saw Gilas defeat Chinese-Taipei, 92-81.
Chen Yenyu finished with 20 points for Chinese-Taipei, who shares early lead in the tournament along with Korea’s Busan BNK Sum and Japan’s Chanson.
Busan defeated Iran, 87-44, while the V-Magic escaped Chinese-Taipei’s youth squad 76-65, in the first two games of the tournament.
Chen Weian tallied 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists while Cheng Ihsiu chipped in 14 points.
Gilas will look to finally notch their first-ever win in the annual event on Sunday when they take on Iran.