US-born Filipina cager Mai-Loni Henson is up to the challenge of defending the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in the name of Gilas Women in 2022.

/ 13 October 2021

National women’s team coach Pat Aquino alongside the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas — partnered with Fil-Am Nation Select organization heralded a tryout in the US last June 4 to 5 (5 to 6 in Manila time).

As a result of the recently conducted tryouts, the former Washington University standout Henson left a remarkable performance and potential eyeing for her to be part of the National team.

Coach Aquino was drawn by Henson’s skills, height, and position and officially announced Henson’s debut with Gilas in 2022. 

“She will join us this February,” he shared on Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

In her prime college years, Henson is an all-around player averaging 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, ranking second in assists with 2.4 apg, and third in steals with 1.2 spg in her last year with Washington Huskies.

Recently coming from her fresh first professional season in France with the Al Aplemont club, the 6-foot-1 Henson also delivered 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Henson will be playing as a naturalized player in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, 2022 Fiba Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournaments, and the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

For now, what bothers coach Aquino the most is the commitment of the player.

The national team learned a lot after conflicts arose with Fil-Am Kelli Hayes and Ella Fajardo due to commitment issues affecting the team’s plans in the 2021 Fiba Women’s World Cup in Amman and the first quarter of 2022, respectively.

“For now, ang akin is yung scheduling nila. That’s the most important factor first, na makuha natin yung commitment nila. And then siguro when they’re committed already, then let’s talk about the long term program,” he said.

“As of now, it’s the scheduling for those people who are overseas. Talagang makakatulong sila sa atin with their experience coming in, and I’m looking forward na siguro mas marami pang darating.”