Tryouts for the Gilas Pilipinas women's national team commenced on Saturday in California, with a dozen NCAA Division 1 standouts showcasing their skills and talents in front of head coach Pat Aquino.
Those who confirmed their attendance were: Mai-Loni Henson, who has already played pro basketball in France after a collegiate career at the University of Washington; Mel Isbell of New Mexico State; Gabby Rones of the University of Nevada; Jessica Malzarte of Fresno Pacific; Kiery Oakry of the University of San Diego; Stefanie Bernerabe of Westmont; and Kayla Revelo of the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
Also present were Malia Bambrick of Pepperdine; Lynette Garon of Southwestern College; Alina Daffon of Cal State Maritime; Erica Cray of Huston-Tillotson University; and Nikki Villasin of North Pack University.
Aquino, who steered the Gilas women to a breakthrough gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, was thrilled that the tryout attracted some notable talent.
"We're looking around kung sino 'yung pwede or ready na to help us in our national team," Aquino said on "Power and Play" shortly before the start of the tryout yesterday.
"I know it's a big step for them. Kasi like, dual citizenship, and then playing internationally," he added. "I'm just excited and happy with Coach Cris (Gopez) of Fil-Am Nation for doing this, and having invited all of those players."
"Hopefully we can find players who are really willing enough to play for our national color."
Aside from showcasing their capabilities, the players were also given information on how they can eventually play for the Philippines. Most of them will still need to gain dual citizenship to make them eligible for Gilas Pilipinas.
"What kind of commitment I need from them is to get their dual citizenship," said Aquino. "So that's the most important. One thing also why we're doing this is to provide information for them, not only for them, but for their parents. How do they get their Philippine or dual citizenship?"
Day 2 of the tryouts is set for Sunday, Philippine time.
The event was organized by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as well as Fil-Am Nation Select, which seeks to create bridges between athletes with Filipino blood in the United States and local coaches in the Philippines.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: