MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines does not lack for talent when it comes to female basketball players, and this will be showcased when the first professional season of the Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) gets going.
This, according to Pat Aquino, the head coach of the powerhouse National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs as well as the Philippine women's national basketball team.
Aquino, who steered the Gilas Pilipinas Women's team to a breakthrough gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, has long advocated for a women's professional league in the Philippines. This would give the country's female players a platform to continue their basketball careers, even after their collegiate days.
The dreams of the country's female players -- and of Aquino himself -- are slowly coming true via the WNBL, which last month was granted professional status by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
"Definitely, there's a lot of talent na masasabi natin for the girls," Aquino attested, when asked by former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on "Power and Play" if there is enough talent in the country for a professional league.
"For the past how many years na akong nagko-coach ng babae, every time na lang na gagawa ako ng national team, there are still more and more talent coming in," he added.
Aquino recalled that five years ago, when he held a tryout in Cebu, only 20 female players showed up. This year, however, almost 200 players tried out -- and all of them were clearly talented.
"I was just amazed about it," said Aquino.
Already, the WNBL is attracting great attention from the country's players. NBL executive vice president Rhose Montreal said during the PSA Forum on Tuesday that over 300 players have signed up for their draft, just two days after posting their application form.
Aquino, who has led the Lady Bulldogs to five consecutive UAAP championships, is hoping for the best for the WNBL, particularly as he believes it will benefit the national team in the future.
"I'm just wishing that the level of competition would be more leveling up for the national team. By the time na mag-form ulit ako ng national team, they'll be better as a player," said Aquino.