MANILA, Philippines -- National University (NU) star Camille Clarin has no doubt that the Ateneo de Manila University tandem of Kacey dela Rosa and Jhazmin Joson can make their mark for the Philippine national women's basketball team, should they be called up to Gilas Pilipinas.
Gilas head coach Pat Aquino has indicated that both Dela Rosa and Joson -- who steered Ateneo to the Final 4 of UAAP Season 85 -- will be among the local players who will be invited to the national team pool.
Both players were impressive in Season 85, with dela Rosa set to be named Rookie of the Year after averaging 19.8 points, 15.2 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game. She will be joined by Joson in the Mythical Team; the veteran guard put up 12.71 points, 7.57 rebounds, and 7.14 assists per contest for the Blue Eagles.
Their campaign ended against Clarin and the Lady Bulldogs in the Final 4, with NU seizing an 83-64 win to advance to the finals for the eighth season in a row. Afterward, Clarin had nothing but praise for Ateneo's 1-2 punch.
"They're very talented players. I love guarding Jhaz Joson, as you guys see," said Clarin, a Gilas mainstay who took on the assignment of defending the Ateneo standout for most of the game.
"We respect each other so much, our game, especially defensively, we make it a thing to always guard each other," she said. "After the game she always commends me for that and I do the same with her."
Dela Rosa had given NU fits in their Final 4 game, finishing with a double-double of 22 points and 18 rebounds to go with 17 blocks.
"I love their intensity," Clarin said of the pair. "They don't have a ceiling, and that's what we need for Gilas. We're always looking for new talent and to find it locally is even better."
Ateneo head coach LA Mumur has promised to make both dela Rosa and Joson available to the national team if they will be invited by Aquino.
"Papahiram namin itong dalawang ito. Promise. Basta okay 'yung grades nila, 'yun naman 'yung condition," said Mumar. "Basta okay 'yung grades nila, ipapahiram namin, hindi kami madamot. We're gonna lend them for the national team."
It's an opportunity that Joson and dela Rosa are already embracing.
"It will be an honor to play for the country," said Joson. "I wasn't really planning on going to but I mean, if I'm invited, why not?"