Gilas Pilipinas Women could not open their 2021 FIBA Women's Asia Cup campaign on a winning note, falling under the sheer might of China, 52-143, at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan on Monday (27 September).
Height proved to be the biggest disadvantage for the Filipinas, as they struggled to contain the taller Chinese squad throughout the match.
Yang Liwei spearheaded a balanced scoring outing for world No. 7 China with 21 points laced with five assists and steals apiece, while 6-foot-7 center Li Yueru imposed her dominance down low with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Another towering presence, 6-foot-9 Xu Han, commanded attention in the shaded area with 17 points and six rebounds in the lopsided win, as China dominated the boards, 55 to 23.
Compounding on the size disadvantage for the Philippines was Gilas sole center Clare Castro's foul trouble, which resulted in a five-point, one-rebound performance in the wire-to-wire loss.
Despite the eventual 91-point defeat, Gilas Pilipinas managed to put up a tough fight in the opening salvo, even chasing to within seven points at 15-22 in the first quarter, behind the scoring exploits of Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos.
However, China cranked up their offensive machine while tightening their defensive screws from that point onward, as they churned out a scoring burst that widened the gap to double digits.
It also did not help that the Filipinas had an erratic outing with 24 turnovers, allowing China to open the floodgates and build an insurmountable lead.
Bernardino emerged as the lone Gilas scorer in double figures, with 17 points to go along with seven rebounds, two assists and a pair of blocks.
Pontejos came in second in scoring for the Philippines with seven, while Mar Prado had six of her own in the loss that also spoiled the senior debuts of Camille Clarin, Ella Fajardo, Kristine Cayabyab and Karl Ann Pingol.
Gilas Pilipinas Women will return to action on Wednesday (Manila time) when they clash with Australia.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.