The Gilas Pilipinas Women program is still looking to add a naturalized player to its pool.
Someone that would really like to play in the Philippines, and for the Philippines.
“Yun ang problema nation ngayon – finding some players na will be willing enough to come here, willing to play for us,” said head coach Pat Aquino during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
Back in 2015, talks of having Rhena Itesi, the 6-foot-4 foreign student-athlete from National University, as a naturalized player floated around.
But it went nowhere. And now that she has already finished her five years with the Lady Bulldogs back in 2019, naturalizing her may be out of the question.
“Rhena Itesi was one of them but then again, will she fit in the future?” wondered Aquino, who was Itesi’s coach in NU.
During the 2019 edition of the FIBA Asia Cup, 6-foot Filipino-American Kelli Hayes was the player slotted in Gilas Women’s naturalized position.
Another Fil-for player being looked at by the program is 6-foot-1 Mai-Loni Henson, who is a Filipina but was not able to obtain her passport before the age of 16.
The 50-year-old program director is now looking for someone young, and of course, tall if he is to naturalize a player.
Back in the recently concluded FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, the Philippine squad had an average height of 5-foot-6, with Clare Castro as the only true center.
Jack Animam is in Serbia, playing for Radnički in the First Women’s Basketball League of Serbia.
“Sa akin, ‘yung mga bata na ulit ang makuha natin.
“I’m still looking for a new naturalized player, much taller one that could help us na wala tayo dito sa Pilipinas, yung hindi natin makuha sa local or mga Fil-Am natin,” he continued.
Gilas Women’s doors will always be open for a naturalized player, especially when it gets the needed support from Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
“We could have a possible naturalized player in the future,” said Aquino.