Duke’s Vanessa De Jesus excited to begin March Madness

Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2023 05:23 PM

Duke guard Vanessa de Jesus. Photo courtesy of Duke WBB on Twitter (@DukeWBB).
Duke guard Vanessa de Jesus. Photo courtesy of Duke WBB on Twitter (@DukeWBB).

March Madness has begun in the NCAA.

In the men's tournament, none of the five Filipino-American players who saw action advanced past the first round.

On Saturday, the women will take court including Fil-Am Vanessa De Jesus of Duke University. The Blue Devils will open the women’s tournament on Saturday at home against the 13th seed Iona. 

"For myself again, this is my first year, and it's always been a dream of mine to play in this tournament. So it finally being that time, it's just a surreal moment. I'm just so excited to finally play here at home," said De Jesus.

The Duke women's basketball team fell short of winning the ACC tournament, but their 25-6 record still earned them the number three seed in their bracket. 

"We didn't finish the ACC Tournament as we wanted to. So just going back to the drawing board and fixing what needed to be fixed. I think, at the end of the day, this whole year, we wanted to get here for this moment and just really want to show what we've got. So it's been a long time coming, but I think having the moment now and it being finally this time, it's something we're just really excited for, and something we've been waiting for since the beginning of the year," said De Jesus.

Coming off the bench in her junior year, De Jesus has averaged just under five points a game on 41 percent shooting. 

While they’re favored to make a deep tournament run, Coach Kara Lawson is taking this experience one game at a time. 

"I think one of our strengths all year is we've just focused on the next game, and we let everybody else talk about the big picture stuff and who can win and who can't win and who can do all that. We don't worry about it. We talk about trying to stay focused, but success for us tomorrow is to win. If we can do that, we get a chance to play another day," said Lawson.

This is the Duke women’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2018. 

While the program has reached the Final Four four times and the championship game twice, the Duke women have not won a national title.