GILAS Pilipinas 3×3 women stood its ground but still stumbled late in a 17-10 defeat to New Zealand in the knockout quarterfinals of the 2023 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup on Sunday at the Singapore Sports Hub OCBC Square.

Inspired by a huge win over No. 7 Iran in pool phase to advance in the playoffs, the Filipina ballers clicked from all cylinders and seized an early 7-5 over the taller Kiwis only to cool down to stare at a sudden 7-11 deficit

Janine Pontejos would steer Gilas back into the game to trail by only 10-11 but the Taller Ferns had one last ace up their sleeves by answering with a searing 6-0 closeout for the win as time expired.

Ms. Pontejos, the seasoned sniper even for Gilas 5-on-5 squad, finished with six points while Afril Bernardino had three points and six rebounds for the wards of national women’s program director and head coach Pat Aquino.

Sharne Pupuke-Robati had a monstrous 7-point, 13-rebound outing for New Zealand, which will face Thailand in the semifinals after the latter’s thrilling 17-16 win over Japan. The other semis pairing features reigning champion China and Australia in a rematch of last edition’s finalists.

Gilas women’s  quarterfinal finish this time around atoned for its early exit last year in the qualifiers.

The feat also carried the country’s fight following the elimination of Gilas men in Pool D with a 0-2 slate, a far cry from its semifinal finish last edition highlighted by a stunning upset against No. 1 Mongolia in the quarterfinals.

Led by PBA 3×3 scoring champion Almond Vosotros, the fourth-ranked Gilas suffered close losses to wildcard Iran, 11-14 and No. 5 Qatar, 18-21. — John Bryan Ulanday