Pat Aquino to use US Gilas Women tryout to educate Fil-Ams on eligibility

LOS ANGELES — Coach Pat Aquino is hoping to use the upcoming US tryouts for the Gilas Pilipinas women’s squad organized by Fil-Am Nation Select and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to educate possible national team prospects on eligibility rules.

This, because players with dual citizenship, which include Fil-Am talents, need to obtain a passport from the country they wish to represent before they turn 16 — a requirement which most prospects and their families are not entirely aware of.

“Most of our invitees, they don’t have the papers yet,” Aquino said in Filipino. “We’ll try to explain how the process works, and if they need our help they can let us know.”

If prospects remain uninformed and miss out on getting a passport by 16, they would not be considered as a “local” for Gilas women in FIBA sanctioned competitions and can only participate as a naturalized player.

With already a number of talents slipping through Aquino’s fingers because of eligibility rules, he is doing his part to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Come June 4 and 5 (June 5 and 6 in Manila) Aquino will make his case to the 25 players invited and their families to offer the opportunity of wearing a Gilas Pilipinas jersey.

More than anything, Aquino just wants to create the buzz and excitement for the program that explicitly has the potential to be great.

“If they are invited, they should come so I could talk to them and explain to them what’s happening, what’s our plans, and just to get them excited,” said Aquino.

Among those headlining the tryouts is NAIA MVP Stefanie Berberabe and Mai-Loni Henson who recently finished a stint as a pro baller in France.

Also expected to make an appearance is Vanessa de Jesus of Duke University.