MANILA, Philippines -- Gilas Pilipinas women's head coach Pat Aquino has been criss-crossing the United States in search of Filipino-American players who can suit up for the country's national team program.
Aquino, also the coach of UAAP powerhouse National University, has had a "fruitful" trip as he has reconnected with known Fil-Am talents such as Duke University freshman Vanessa de Jesus and 3x3 standout Ella Fajardo.
He has also gotten in contact with younger players and Fil-Am coaches, with great help from Fil-Am Nation Select -- the program founded by San Miguel veteran Alex Cabagnot and his cousin, coach Cris Gopez, to showcase the talents and skills of Filipinos in the United States.
"Ang dami kong nakikilala, mga future national team players, mga Fil-Ams who are excited to be part of the national team," Aquino said during a recent appearance on "The Chasedown."
"Not only that, I've been talking with some Filipino coaches, mga Division 1 coaches na mga Filipino. I'm really excited sa lahat ng ginagawa namin dito with Coach Cris and with Fil-Am Nation. Sana maging fruitful," he added.
Aquino will have another chance to scout Fil-Am talents through a private showcase hosted by Fil-Am Nation Select on January 29 and 30 in Orange County.
Cabagnot and former PBA import Sean Chambers will be present to assist in the event.
Players aged 14-24 are welcome to participate in the showcase.
According to Gopez, the event seeks to "build the bridge" and recruit the best Filipino-foreign players in the US to hopefully one day suit up for the Philippines.
As more and more Filipinas both locally and abroad develop their game, both Aquino and Gopez believe the Gilas Pilipinas women's program can expand to include youth teams.
"(We are) working together to build the 16-under, 18-under program and the senior team that can compete with teams in the (FIBA) qualifiers, the World Cup, and the Southeast Asian Games," said Gopez.
This will already be the second showcase that Fil-Am Nation Select has hosted with Aquino. In the first edition, 19 players took part and Gopez is expecting a bigger turnout this time around.
Interested participants can make inquiries through the organization's Instagram account.