MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino-American guard Ella Fajardo already knows the next step in her basketball journey after her career in the NCAA.
Fajardo committed to play Division 1 basketball for Fairleigh Dickinson University next year. She still has one more year of high school basketball left to play at Gill St. Bernard's School, where she is currently the team's captain.
Afterwards, she is thinking of coming home to the Philippines, possibly to play in the Women's National Basketball League (WNBL), which was recently granted professional status by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
"I have heard of the league, and I am so ecstatic, to say the least," said the 17-year-old Fajardo during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum last week.
"For sure, I am looking to join the league eventually," she said. "But for now, I am prioritizing my career in the US."
The WNBL is the first professional basketball league for women in the Philippines, and organizers are planning to start its first season in January. A draft is set for October 30, with several players already applying to join.
When asked if she is also considering the WNBA, the 5-foot-5 Fajardo said that while she has thought of that league as well, her heart is in the Philippines.
She plans not just to play in the WNBL, but also to give back to the country by possibly coaching in the MILO-BEST Center Clinics, where she learned the fundamentals of basketball as a child.
"Afterwards, I'm thinking of maybe coaching, or maybe having relations with FIBA in the US and hone everything that I learn here, so I can eventually bring it with me in the Philippines," said Fajardo. "Maybe even be a BEST Center coach."
"Just really take with me all those attributes and give back to what the Philippines has given me," she added.
Playing for the Gilas Pilipinas Women's Team, of course, is a priority for Fajardo, who was part of the 3x3 team that won a historic bronze in the FIBA U-18 Asia Cup in Malaysia last year together with Kristine Cayabyab, Camille Clarin, and Angelica Surada.
"I plan to represent my country as much as I can, given the fact that I learned fundamentals from the BEST Center. I wouldn't have been here if it weren't for them," she said.