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De Jesus set for Gilas stint

LANCE KING/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE VANESSA de Jesus is set to play as a naturalized player when Gilas Pilipinas women squad sees action in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 next month.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The road to a stint with Gilas Pilipinas women squad is finally clear after Vanessa de Jesus formally obtained her Philippine passport that will enable her to play as naturalized player in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 next month.

Gilas head coach Patrick Aquino made the confirmation to Daily Tribune, saying that the passport of the 21-year-old Duke University standout is now ready for pickup at the Department of Foreign Affairs through the help of Fil-Am Nation Select.

Aquino explained that despite having Filipino parents, De Jesus has to play as a naturalized player after failing to obtain her passport before turning 16 years old.

Under the rules of the International Basketball Federation, players have to secure the passport of the country they wish to represent before turning 16. If not, they will be classified as naturalized players.

But unlike in the Southeast Asian Games, where teams took advantage of tapping multiple naturalized players, only one naturalized player is allowed per team in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments.

Aquino said they will start their training on Monday while De Jesus will arrive around the second week of June to reinforce the country in the Division A of the prestigious continental tourney set to start on 26 June.

De Jesus could add firepower and backcourt stability for the national dribblers.

After a stellar high school career at Sierra Canyon School, the same school where the sons of National Basketball Association superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade played, De Jesus joined Duke University, a powerhouse program that produced countless of NBA stars.

Right now, she is playing a key role in the Blue Devils’ attack this season after vying in all 32 games in which she averaged 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 assist.

 

De Jesus could add firepower and backcourt stability for the national dribblers.

 

Aside from De Jesus, Gilas will also be parading two other new faces in incoming collegiate players Louna Ozar of University of the Philippines and Jhazmin Joson of Ateneo de Manila University.

Ozar played for the national under-18 team last year in India and was among the most consistent performers, averaging 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and two assists per game.

De Jesus, Ozar and Joson have affirmed their commitment to join the Gilas squad, which will still be led by mainstays Afril Bernardino, Jack Animam, Janine Pontejos, Clare Castro and Chak Cabinbin as well as promising stars Ella Fajardo, Camille Clarin, Khate Castillo and Stefanie Berberabe.

In the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, Gilas Pilipinas is in Group B alongside host Australia, Japan and Chinese Taipei.

The Philippines begins its campaign on 26 June against Australia at 5:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. in Manila) and then battles Japan on 27 June and Chinese Taipei on 28 June, both of them at 11:30 a.m.

After the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, the Philippines will also play in the William Jones Cup tournament for women slated in first week of August in Taipei and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China from 23 September to 8 October.

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