Top Filipina prospects in US willing to suit up for Gilas womenâs
Gilas women prospects Kayla Padilla (L) and Vanessa de Jesus with Gilas women head coach Pat Aquino and US-based Pinoy coach Cris Gopez
Courtesy of Cris Gopez

Top Filipina prospects in US willing to suit up for Gilas women’s

Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) - January 13, 2021 - 12:34pm

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas women's head coach Pat Aquino has been in the United States since December, occupied with searching for talent to enrich the up-and-coming women's national team program.

Aquino's visit was highlighted on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time) when he went to see two Filipinas who are arguably the team's best prospects — US NCAA Division I players Vanessa De Jesus and Kayla Padilla.

"It was a great day for me yesterday. I was with coach Cris Gopez (of Fil-Am Nation Select) who arranged everything," Aquino told Philstar.com.

"I went there and I was talking to them about the program, the plans of Gilas Pilipinas so they were really excited," he added.

De Jesus is fresh off of a shortened rookie season at Duke University, where she became the first-ever player of Asian descent in the school's women's basketball program.

For her part, Padilla was named Ivy League freshman of the year with University of Pennsylvania last season, with basketball activities on hold this year due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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

Both high-level prospects showed great interest in suiting up for flag and country, born to Filipino parents.

"There were questions about the scheduling [of competitions]," Aquino added.

The only thing standing in their way, apart from their schedules permitting play, is completing their paper work to be deemed eligible to play for the national team.

Fortunately, Aquino said this is an easier task for De Jesus and Padilla compared to other prospects.

"For both of them, it's kind of easy because both their parents are Filipino," he said.

No matter how the two prospects go about their papers, Aquino maintains one thing: Gilas is will welcome them with open arms.

"I'm giving you an open line, whatever you decided, we're here," Aquino said on what he told the two prospects.

And while the addition of stars like De Jesus and Padilla will definitely benefit the Gilas women's program, Aquino also bares wanting to give them what the program offers in terms of experience.

"It's wonderful that we had a chance to talk to them about what we can give them, what is available for them," he said.

Aquino is set to continue his journey in finding new talent for the Gilas women's program across the United States, with plans to travel in the East Coast, and in Washington to discover more talents.

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