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2021 SEA Games

Henson, De Jesus, Molina sisters headline Gilas Women’s Fil-Am tryout


Gilas Pilipinas Women’s has set the ball rolling in building its roster for the FIBA Women’s Asia Cups and the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

With the help of Fil-Am Nation Select, Gilas Women’s will be holding a tryout for the seniors’ team, scheduled from June 4-5 in La Verne, California.

“Partnering with Fil-Am Nation allows for us to build a connection; and most importantly, relationship with the Fil-Am coaches and, of course, players so that we can build a bridge, and more players would be eligible to play for their country,” said Gilas Women’s head coach Patrick Aquino, who handles both 5-on-5 and 3×3 teams.

Aquino is currently in the States to help Jack Animam settle down with her training with East West Private.

Headlining the 27 players who received invites are Mai-Loni Henson and Chanelle Molina.

Henson, who stands at 6-foot-1, played for Division III French team Al Aplemont after graduating from Washington. Five-foot-nine Molina, on the other hand, is a product of Washington State; played for Swedish club Norrköping; and had a tryout with WNBA team Indiana.

Chanelle will not be the only Molina that will join the tryout as her sisters Cherilyn and Celina will join her as well.

Fairleigh Dickinson-commit Ella Fajardo and Sacramento State product Gabi Bade have also received call-backs for national team duties.

Centers and power forwards set to join are 6-foot Lexi Marks of Boise State; 5-foot-10 Malia Bambrick of Pepperdine; 5-foot-10 Kiera Oakry of UC San Diego; 5-foot-10 Kayla Revelo of University of Hawaii-Hilo; and 5-foot-9 Kayla Padilla of Pepperdine.

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Set to complete the cast are Duke’s Vanessa De Jesus, George Washington’s Aurea Gingras, New Mexico State’s Mel Isbell, UC Berkeley’s Lei McIntosh, Nevada’s Gabby Rones, North Park’s Angie Villasin, Fresno Pacific’s Jessica Malzarte, St. Thomas’s Janelle Ganer, Southwest’s Lynette Garon, La Verne’s Lei Talaro, Westmont’s Stefanie Bernerabe, Cal Poly Pomona’s Jayda Villareal, and Southern Utah’s Daylani Ballena.

Fil-Am Nation founder Cris Gopez is working on the compliance requests for each player as NCAA rules state that each program must first approve the participation of their respective student-athlete for national team call-ups.

For Gopez, organizing national team tryouts is a dream fulfilled for him as it helping Philippine teams identify talent has been the goal of his program.

“Honestly, this is really special.

“I want to show Filipino communities all around the world and to our sporting programs how devoted I am to helping our country. There must be a leader that must advocate for all Filipinos, and I for sure am one of them,” he said.

“With my great relationship with Coach Pat, I commend him for his efforts in trusting our platform to help give the Gilas Women’s program a push to bring competitive against big programs like China and Australia,” he expressed.

The FIBA Asia Women’s Cup takes place from September 26-October 3; meanwhile, the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup will also make a return this year. The 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi then closes out the calendar year.

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