MANILA, Philippines -- Gilas Pilipinas coach Pat Aquino plans to extend invitations to the standout players in the UAAP Season 85 women's basketball tournament, after several players emerged as rising stars during the competition.
Aquino has been closely observing the UAAP women's competition where his former team, National University (NU), saw its 108-game winning streak come to an end, while teams such Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines became contenders.
"Sabi ko sa mga coaching staff ko sa Gilas, we will have a lot of work to do," said Aquino in a recent interview with collegiate media. "Ang dami niyong kakausaping players."
Among those in Aquino's radar are Adamson University's Dindy Medina and the University of Santo Tomas tandem of Tacky Tacatac and Eka Soriano. Ateneo rookie Kacey dela Rosa and veteran guard Jhazmin Joson have also merited invitations to the national team, along with Lee Sario of De La Salle University.
They are expected to join an already deep pool that features several Filipino-American players as well as former UAAP stars. For Aquino, it is a "good problem" that their pool of talent is now expanding and they can add more and more local stars to the fold.
"It's not just getting players from abroad now. We have players right now," Aquino noted. "It's good. When I go around the provinces, marami akong nakikitang mga players na lumalabas na enthusiastic about playing basketball."
"[Before] when you say girls, [they play] volleyball. But now, girls like to play basketball," he added. "That's the effect of 'yung work namin sa Gilas Women, na talagang nakikilala na, konti-konti."
"Hopefully, more. 'Yun naman 'yung goal natin sa Gilas."
Having a big pool of talent will be crucial for the Gilas Women as they have a packed schedule coming up in 2023. Aside from FIBA events, they will also defend their gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games and possibly make their debut in the Asian Games. Aquino also wants them to play in 3x3 events as well as age-group competitions.
"It will be more exposure for us," Aquino said.