Vanessa de Jesus, whose parents immigrated to United States decades ago, welcomes a chance to play for the Gilas Pilipinas national women’s basketball team.
The opportunity to join the national squad came her way yesterday following talks with national women’s coach Patrick Aquino.
The 5’8” de Jesus, who has a colorful career in high school, is suiting up for the Duke University Blue Devils in the Division 1 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association this November.
She will be an asset for Duke, which is currently ranked no. 3 before the pandemic cancelled the rest of their postseason campaign.
Aquino met her recently after being introduced in a meet-up with prospects in one of FilAm Nation’s activities.
Fil-Am Nation, considers itself as the leading basketball organization in the United States that represents Fil-American basketball players.
But Aquino said he missed a chance to see de Jesus back in February.
“I’m happy. My hard work has paid off. And with all the help I got, this helped me grow as a player and as a person,” said the 18-year-old de Jesus following an online meet-and-greet on Zoom yesterday.
The Valencia, California-based de Jesus caught the attention of new Duke coach Kara Lawson when she tried out for the team.
De Jesus is part of the All-California Interscholastic Federation Open Division first team in 2020, with the Suddenlink first team All-State in 2020, and the All-CIF Southern Section Co-Player-of-the-Year in 2019.
All these she earned while playing for Sierra Canyon High School.
There’s excitement in me,” added de Jesus, on her stint with the Blue Devils.
De Jesus’s dad Philip is from Pangasinan while mom Maria is from Boracay.
She is the first-ever student-athlete of Asian descent to see action for the Blue Devils.
De Jesus normed 5.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game while with Sierra Canyon.
She said she had offers to join Ivy League school with good academic programs. But the academic and varsity programs from Duke University attracted her most.
Aquino said he is glad that de Jesus is open to the idea of playing for Gilas.
“With the experience that she is going to get from Duke, she will give it back to the national team in the future. And she will do something with it for the Philippines in the future,” said Aquino.