ELLA Fajardo is still pinching herself, in disbelief that she is now part of the seniors team of Gilas Pilipinas Womens team.
"It's such a surreal moment. It's always been a dream of mine since the sixth grade," she told The Game.
"I remember coach Pat [Aquino] inviting me to a Gilas practice and he let me do the mini drills in the beginning. Once they started playing and really going hardcore, that's when I'd sit out and watch them."
It's a long time coming for Fajardo, 18, who was previously a part of the national women's youth teams before he committed to Fairleigh Dickinson University in the United States.
But this time out, she's no longer a visitor and rather a vital cog for the national women's team in its campaign in the upcoming 2021 Fiba Women's Asia Cup in Amman, Jordan.
And Fajardo is relishing this opportunity to not only represent the country, but playing alongside the likes of Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, and Chack Cabinbin.
"I never expected that it would be this soon that coach Pat had to trust me to be on the team with my ates," she said. "I've looked up to them my whole life and I've watched every single game of theirs."
Now, though, the hard work begins for Fajardo, who formally joined the team on Friday before the team flies for Jordan on Tuesday.
Gilas Women Fiba Asia Cup lineup
She will be one of the four newcomers, together with Camille Clarin, Kristine Cayabyab, and Karl Ann Pingol, which Gilas Women will parade in the continental tournament.
You bet, though, that the 5-foot-6 guard won't waste her shot in her seniors debut.
"To be representing my country and playing alongside with them is a dream come true," she said.
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