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Gilas Women hope to have naturalized player by 2022


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.

UAAP-82-WBB-Finals-G1-NU-vs.-UST-Itesi-3857 Gilas Women hope to have naturalized player by 2022 Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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.

UAAP-82-WBB-NU-vs.-DLSU-Hayes-7209 Gilas Women hope to have naturalized player by 2022 Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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.

FILE-PHOTO-Mai-Loni-Henson Gilas Women hope to have naturalized player by 2022 Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

Photo from gohuskies.com

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.

2021-FIBA-Womens-Asia-Cup-Australia-def-Gilas-Clare-Castro Gilas Women hope to have naturalized player by 2022 Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

Photo by FIBA.basketball

Jack Animam is in Serbia, playing for Radnički in the First Women’s Basketball League of Serbia.

#ReadMore  Myla Pablo raring to lead young Motolite

2021-22-PLZS-Crvena-Zvezda-def-Radnicki-Jack-Animam Gilas Women hope to have naturalized player by 2022 Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

“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.

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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