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Aquino tags exodus as ‘good problem’

National women’s basketball team head coach Patrick Aquino doesn’t see anything wrong with the exodus of players for better opportunities abroad.

In an interview, Aquino expressed confidence that those who are embarking on overseas assignments will eventually gain the experience, confidence and maturity they need for major international tournaments ahead like the 32nd Southeast Asian Games and the 2023 FIBA Asia Cup.

He cited the case of Jack Animam, the heart and soul of Gilas Women team who signed up with the Toulouse Metropole Basketball Club in Ligue Feminine de Basketball in France.

“Actually, it’s a good problem for us,” said Aquino, stressing that Animam vowed to return to power the country in reclaiming the gold medal in the biennial meet in Cambodia in May.

“Mentioning Jack, going back to France and playing there for two months is a good idea for me. Getting her groove back is good but she’s be back for the Cambodia trip. Hopefully, we’ll prepare well with her.”

Aside from Animam, also campaigning abroad are Filipino-American stalwarts Mai-Loni Henson and Ella Fajardo.

The 6-foot-1 former Washington standout Henson is seeing action in France while the 5-foot-5 Fajardo remains with the Fairleigh Dickinson University in the United States.

Aquino has yet to confirm if both of them can join them in the SEA Games, but they will definitely be available for the FIBA Asia Cup.

With this, Aquino is glad that collegiate leagues like the University Athletic Association of the Philippines had already returned, giving local players an avenue to sharpen their skills.

“Locally, much improved to have the UAAP once again and seeing the young girls play,” he said, stressing that there are a lot of standouts in the UAAP like Ateneo de Manila University playmaker Kacey de la Rosa.

“We just have to continue our grassroots program and tell the coaches what to do. Going into different provinces and knowing what’s really happening.”

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