US-NCAA recruit Vanessa De Jesus willing to suit up for Gilas Woman

The 18-year-old Filipino women's basketball talent Vanessa de Jesus is set to debut in the US NCAA Division 1 for Duke University Blue Devils when the season starts this November.

/ 18 September 2020

A product of the Sierra Canyon Girls’ basketball program, De Jesus, whose parents are from Manila and Pangasinan is now taking her pre-med course while training for the upcoming season as a freshman at Duke. 

“I just can’t wait to play in the gym with my team because of how historic it has been and all the craziest games that have been played there and the moments. I just want to be a part of that,” said De Jesus in an online press conference. 

For the past two weeks, De Jesus has been working out with the Blue Devils women’s team under coach Kara Lawson, the former WNBA champion player and member of the U.S. Women’s team that won the gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Duke has produced successful WNBA players over the years like Tricia Liston, who won the 2015 WNBA title with the Minnesota Lynx, and Los Angeles Sparks’ Alana Beard and Chelsea Gray, who copped the 2016 WNBA championship together. 

Before joining Duke, De Jesus was an All-CIF Open Division 1st team as a high school player and was the Gold Coast League MVP as well as Southern Section Co-Player of the Year in 2019.

Meanwhile, Gilas Women head coach Patrick Aquino alongside assistant coach and former PH team member Julie Amos, Mark Solano of the SBP, and Duke Athletics External Operations senior associate director of communications Lindy Brown believe that De Jesus’ inclusion in a top division 1 team is a breakthrough for Filipina ballers both in the US and in the country. 

Kaya maganda ang opportunity for her to represent us in international tournaments,” said Aquino. “She’s very much welcome in the Gilas women’s team.”

As a response, De Jesus expressed her willingness to play for the Gilas Pilipinas women’s national team when the opportunity comes.

“I’m interested in playing for the Philippines. I’m very excited about that,” De Jesus said.

“I think it’s amazing just how much all of you guys just know about basketball because it means so much to me. All my family is from there, so having support back home I should say, is really nice,” she added. 

According to FIBA-sanctioned tournaments, the 18-year-old De Jesus is no longer eligible to play because of the 16-year-old eligibility rule that requires a player to prove his/her legal nationality through a passport of at least three years validity acquired before turning 16.

She can only join the FIBA 3×3 tournaments, the William Jones Cup, Asian Games, and Southeast Asian Games without being listed as a naturalized player. 

However, Coach Aquino stressed that De Jesus could play as a naturalized player in FIBA events.