Gilas Women opened its title retention bid on a rousing note by way of a 93-77 drubbing of Indonesia in the 31st Southeast Asian Games basketball competitions, Monday at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Filipina dribblers took a while to get their groove on but there was no stopping the reigning gold medalists when they did, pulling away in the third quarter to beat the bronze winners of the previous meet held in Manila.
“They played so hard. What more can I ask for,” said Aquino. “That’s what we’ve been working on for the last couple of months. Hopefully, we can sustain that.
“I’m just happy that they were doing their best. Talagang sobrang saya ko sa kanila,” Aquino added.
Afril Bernardino led the assault with a full line of 16 points on a 60-percent clip, nine rebounds, four steals, three blocks, and an assist in 28 minutes.
The veteran internationalist spearheaded her side’s surge, where they opened the second half with a 14-3 blitz to inflate a slim two-point lead to a 54-41 advantage with less than six minutes remaining in the third canto.
Their foes managed to trim the gap to just eight but Bernardino was there, joining hands with Angel Surada and Gabi Bade to re-establish their lead to double digits, 66-52, approaching the final minute of the same period.
Gilas would never allow their counterparts to come any closer since then. A Surada putback gave them their biggest lead at 69-52, with 6:40 to play.
Janine Pontejos finished with 15 points. Bade and fellow SEAG first-timer Camille Clarin made a good account of themselves with 11 apiece as all 12 players of coach Pat Aquino scored at least two in the win.
Next up for the Philippines is Thailand on Wednesday, May 18, at 10:00 a.m. in a clash of gold and silver medalists of the 2019 competitions.
Meanwhile, Nathania Claresta led Indonesia with 19 points in the loss, where they failed to sustain their five-point lead early in the second period.
Clarita Antonio produced 12 points, while naturalized player Kim Pierre-Louis chipped in 11 markers and seven rebounds in the defeat.
Philippines (93) – Bernardino 16, Pontejos 15, Bade 11, Clarin 11, Cabinbin 8, Surada 6, Guytingco 6, Castillo 5, Castro 5, Berberabe 4, Tongco 4, Fajardo 2.
Indonesia (77) – Claresta 19, Antonio 12, Pierre-Louis 11, Dewi 9, Adelaide 8, Agustin 7, Sutjiono 6, Lestari 3, Sophia 2, Anggraeni 0, Putri 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17, 40-38, 72-57, 93-77.