This Filipina is Duke University's first Asian women's basketball player

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
This Filipina is Duke University's first Asian women's basketball player
Vanessa de Jesus will be the first Asian ever to play for Duke University's women's basketball team
Duke Athletics

MANILA, Philippines — A full-blooded Filipina will be the first-ever Asian to play for the Duke University women's basketball team, a US NCAA Division I squad.

Vanessa de Jesus, who was born in the United States to Filipino parents, will be strutting her stuff in a Blue Devils uniform come November.

And after a successful high school career, 18-year-old de Jesus is eager to up her game on collegiate basketball's biggest stage.

"I'm so grateful to have this opportunity and especially this year with new coaches coming in... I think this is just a great opportunity to just grow as a player and just take the experience to get better on the court," de Jesus told the Philippine media during a Zoom interview Thursdsay morning.

De Jesus will be under the tutelage of first-year head coach Kara Lawson in her freshman year.

Lawson is a former WNBA and Olympic Champion and worked with the Boston Celtics in the NBA as an assistant coach.

The incoming Blue Devil guard expressed excitement over being mentored by Lawson.

"Going under Kara [Lawson], all her accomplishments as a point guard and her role coaching in the NBA with the Celtics, I think this is a great opportunity for me," she said.

Not only will de Jesus be another beacon of Philippine basketball in the US, but she also plans to give back to her homeland with a possibility of playing in a Gilas uniform.

"I'm interested in playing in the Philippines because I've heard so much, great things... Just how big basketball is there," she said.

However, de Jesus will not be able to suit up for the Gilas women in FIBA-sanctioned activities because of elibility issues.

But she can still represent flag and country in other tournaments like the Jones Cup and the Southeast Asian Games.

Gilas women mentor Pat Aquino revealed that de Jesus is currently working on getting her Philippine passport in order to play for the national team.

"She just has to get a Philippine passport, dual citizenship is in the works," Aquino said.

De Jesus will not be the only name to watch out for in NCAA Division I women's hoops with Gilas women product Ella Fajardo also getting to play in the top tier tournament.

Fajardo will be playing for Fairleigh Dickinson University come next year.

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