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These 2 Filipina ballers can make it to the WNBA. Fil-Am coach explains why
Vanessa de Jesus (L) and Kayla Padilla
Sideline Photos/Duke Athletics

These 2 Filipina ballers can make it to the WNBA. Fil-Am coach explains why

Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) - December 9, 2020 - 3:54pm

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine basketball is aiming to make history as a new generation of ballers hope to break barriers in both the NBA and the WNBA.

While Kai Sotto's journey to the NBA is highly publicized, a number of low-key Filipina hoopers can likely match his dream feat in the WNBA.

Speaking to Philstar.com in an exclusive interview, US-based Filipino coach Cris Gopez named some of the prospects he sees in the WNBA's future.

"When I look at Kayla Padilla and Vanessa de Jesus, I would say those are two girls that could potentially go to the WNBA," said Gopez.

Both players are currently in Division I of the US NCAA, with Padilla playing for University of Pennsylvania and de Jesus handling starting point guard duties for Duke University.

Padilla was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year in the 2019-20 season, while also being named to the 2020 First Team All-Ivy.

De Jesus, for her part, has quickly cemented her place in the Blue Devils' lineup, coming up with consistent performances for Kara Lawson and the rest of the decorated Duke women's basketball squad.

For Gopez, both Filipina hoopers have what it takes to make it to the big leagues.

"Vanessa... she has great court vision and she's very mindful of her surroundings when she plays the game. Kayla Padilla, she's at UPenn, she was freshman of the year last year," Gopez said.

In her rookie year for Pennsylvania, Padilla was named Ivy League Freshman of the Week six times.

She averaged 17.4 points per outing for the Quakers and ranked second in the Ivy League in scoring and 3-point percentage. She was also eighth in field goal percentage.

De Jesus, for her part, has been making an impression with the Blue Devils with an average of 12.3 points, 4.3 dimes and four boards in her first three games for Duke.

She's the first-ever player of Asian descent to play for Duke women's basketball.

The US-based coach can only look forward to more players like them with Filipino heritage raising the bar for women's basketball.

"To be able to see those two top talents, it's unbelievable... I'm looking forward to see more and more talent with the women," he added.

Both hoopers are part of the Fil-Am Nation select community, a platform made to showcase flourishing athletes of Filipino descent in different sports.

One of Gopez's coaching students in Onyeka Okongwu recently got drafted in the NBA as the sixth overall pick. If anyone has an eye for top-caliber talent that can make it to the US' top basketball league, it's Gopez.

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