By: Rom Anzures
Nina Emnace, a 5-foot-6 guard from New Jersey, left a lasting impression in her first tournament on Philippine soil.
Her 17 points led Fil-Nation Select USA to win the first-ever Smart-NBTC Girls Have Next championship, defeating National University Nazareth School, 63-54.
Despite the short practice time her squad had, Emnace was glad to get the gold, and it meant a lot to her.
Emnace revealed that aside from the championship, it was the camaraderie that she and her teammates built that stood out most for her.
“This trip means a lot because coming into this, I was kinda nervous meeting the other girls. But we got so close, and then we’re able to bring that onto the court,” she said.
“I definitely had the time of my life, and I definitely wouldn’t have been here without them. They played amazing and they always had my back.”
As a Harvard commit, Emnace will join the likes of Dukes’ Vanessa de Jesus and Pennsylvania’s Kayla Padilla in the list of the growing list of Filipinas who are lacing their sneakers in the US NCAA.
And she is ready to represent everyone who shares the same dream as her.
“I think that Filipina women are definitely on the rise. We’re just making a statement around the world, and we’re gonna start to take over the D-1 platform, obviously.”
When asked if it is within her plans to represent the country by donning the National-team colors, the standout from Trinity Hall did not even hesitate to give her answer.
“Yeah, definitely,” said Emnace, who did not divulge whether she was able to get her Philippine passport before the age of 16.
Fil-Nation Select head coach Roger Mantua added that aside from player development, it is among their priority to introduce to Emnace and the rest of the team the opportunity of playing for Gilas Pilipinas.
“That’s our first goal as Fil-Nation. We need to establish that they are all qualified to play for the national team, and most of them are available to play for the national team.”