FIBA Asia Cup

Gilas Women survive Chinese Taipei for breakthrough FIBA Asia Cup win, advance to knockout round

Delfin Dioquino

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Gilas Women survive Chinese Taipei for breakthrough FIBA Asia Cup win, advance to knockout round

TOPSCORER. Vanessa de Jesus carries the scoring cudgels for Gilas Women.


Vanessa de Jesus, Jack Animam, and Afril Bernardino show the way as Gilas Women win in the FIBA Women's Asia Cup group stage for the first time since their Division A promotion in 2015

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Women kept their semifinal hopes alive in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup with a breakthrough 92-81 win over Chinese Taipei at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre in Australia on Wednesday, June 28.

Vanessa de Jesus erupted for 25 points, while Jack Animam and Afril Bernardino both notched double-doubles as the Filipinas finished third in Group B with a 1-2 record and advanced to the playoff for a final four berth.

The Philippines will face the second-placed team from Group A, which could either be China, New Zealand, or Korea, in the knockout for a semifinal spot on Friday, June 30.

It marked the first time Gilas Women won a group stage match in the Women’s Asia Cup since they got promoted from Division B to Division A in 2015.

More importantly, the Philippines safely retained its place in Division A after narrowly avoiding relegation to Division B in the past three editions.

“We’re just so happy. I think it is time to [show] that we belong in the FIBA Asia Cup,” said Gilas Women head coach Pat Aquino. “This is not the last and we hope to continue winning.”

The victory, though, did not come without a scare as Chinese Taipei, which got buried as deep as 62-76 early in the fourth quarter, went on a 12-2 tear and narrowed the gap to 74-78 with under five minutes remaining.

But De Jesus came up with a string of winning plays, coming away with a steal, hauling down an offensive rebound, and sinking a reverse layup in a 6-0 blitz that restored the Filipinas’ double-digit lead.

De Jesus, who also tallied 4 assists and 2 steals, then delivered the finishing blows as she scored 6 of their last 8 points to help get the Philippines over the hump against Chinese Taipei.

Bernardino stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals, while Animam put up 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Janine Pontejos added 9 points on a perfect 3-of-3 clip from deep in the win.

It was an emotional triumph for the Filipinas, who endured multiple heartbreaks in the Women’s Asia Cup, especially at the hands of the Taiwanese.

Gilas Women lost by a combined 75 points to Chinese Taipei in their two previous encounters in 2017 and 2021.

So when the final buzzer sounded, Animam could not help but burst into tears.

“These games mean so much to everybody, especially to myself,” said Animam. “This means so much not just for us but back home also.”

Lin Yu-Ting chalked up 21 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals for Chinese Taipei, which finished fourth in Group B with a 0-3 card.

Chinese Taipei will tangle with Group A fourth-placer Lebanon in the battle for seventh place, with the loser set for relegation to Division B.

The Scores

Philippines 92 – De Jesus 25, Bernardino 18, Animam 16, Pontejos 9, Fajardo 6, Clarin 5, Cacho 5, Cabinbin 4, Surada 2, Joson 2, Castillo 0, Ozar 0.

Chinese Taipei 81 – Lin 21, Han 15, Cheng 15, Huang 13, Liu 6, W. Chen 5, M. Chen 4, Y. Chen 2, Pan 0, Wu 0, Chang 0.

Quarters: 29-20, 51-38, 72-62, 92-81.


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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.