Ian Lariba laments inexperience but vows to rise higher after Olympic letdown
Ian Lariba dropped her opening match in Rio. Jerome Ascano

RIO DE JANEIRO — Ian Lariba noted the importance of international exposure after she was ousted by Han Xing of Congo in the women’s table tennis singles event of the Olympics.

Lariba fell to Han, 11-7, 13-11, 11-9, 11-7, in her opening match, just hours after carrying the Philippine flag in the parade of nations during the opening ceremony.

Lariba actually didn't do too badly against Han, making it close especially in the second set until Han relied on her experience to overcome the Filipina table tennis player.

“More on learning experience overall kasi doon ko nakita na ‘yung kailangan ng international exposure. Kahit sabihin na nagte-train sa labas, ‘yung ganito kalaking competition, kailangan ko pa i-overcome ‘yung tension at kaba lalo na kapag end game,” said Lariba.

[See Early exit for Lariba]

Lariba admitted her inexperience showed after she failed to close out the tight second set.

“Actually, kung nakuha ko ‘yung second set, mag-iiba ‘yung momentum kasi 1-1 na. Every point counts talaga," said the UAAP star.

The loss visibly affected Lariba’s South Korean coach Mi Sook Kwon, who shed tears after the defeat.

“Si coach, very passionate siya sa ginagawa niya. Siguro dala na rin sa culture nila,” said Lariba.

However, Lariba, who became the first Filipina to make it to the Olympics table tennis competition, also got words of encouragement from her coach, who said that it’s only the beginning for her.

“Sabi niya, make it a start of something at mag-focus na lang kami sa next games which is siguro international,” said Lariba.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @jeromeascano