Ranged against Australian counterparts and playing with the Gilas Women for the first time, Vanessa de Jesus hardly showed any jitters.
On Tuesday night at Keilor Stadium, she finished with nine points, five assists and two steals. Just another day at the office for the former Duke University scorer.
Barely a week since joining the Gilas Pilipinas women’s team, De Jesus has indeed lived up to expectations and brought an immediate impact to the Pinay quintet preparing for the FIBA Asia Cup.
Against the Keilor Thunder, a club team from Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League, De Jesus was exactly what she was touted to be — and more.
“My biggest worry in having Vanessa was how fast she can integrate herself to our system and get to know her teammates quickly, but she didn’t have much difficulty adjusting to our system,” said head coach Patrick Aquino in a telephone conversation with Daily Tribune.
“She was able to develop chemistry with her teammates in such a short time and she was able to bring the kind of game that fitted to our team.”
In her first game with the Philippine women’s squad, De Jesus played the point guard spot and immediately made everyone on the team look good.
‘My biggest worry in having Vanessa was how fast she can integrate herself to our system and get to know her teammates quickly, but she didn’t have much difficulty adjusting to our system.’
She allowed players like Khate Castillo, Chak Cabinbin and another newcomer, Jhazmn Joson, to get scoring opportunities and opened things up inside for Jack Animam and Afril Bernardino.
As a result, the Filipinas won convincingly over the Thunder, 93-72.
“Our first game against Keilor gave us a glimpse of some of the things we can do better. We’re now improving on our individual defense and we discovered several things that we can probably work on. Louna (Ozar), didn’t score that much, but she’s a scrappy player and can hustle on the defensive end,” Aquino said.
“It gave us an opportunity to get a taste of Australian brand of game, but more importantly, an opportunity for us to compete at a high level.”
The Filipinas will take on the Casey Cavaliers, another WNBL squad, on Thursday as the team tries to wrap up its build up for the FIBA Asia Cup, which begins 26 June.
Gilas will begin their FIBA Asia Cup campaign against host team Australia on opening day at 7:30 p.m. (Manila time), then will take on Japan and Chinese Taipei in the next two days, both slated 1:30 p.m.
The top four teams in the tournament will get guaranteed seats to the Paris Olympic Qualifying Tournament.