IT'S been a non-stop grind for Gilas Pilipinas Women head coach Patrick Aquino, touring the United States to discover young Filipina talents that could boost the team.
Scouting a few key locations in both the East and West Coasts, he has already conducted at least four tryouts and showcases in two months' time.
In the most recent private showcase organized by Fil-Am Nation Select in Orange County, California, he was assisted by the organization founders: coach Cris Gopez, San Miguel Beer star Alex Cabagnot, and former Alaska import Sean Chambers last weekend.
Over 60 girls of different ages joined in and had shown interest in joining the Pinay squad, whether in the near future or in the long run.
Participants came as far as Chicago and Texas to attend the two-day workshop and mini clinic.
From then, Aquino found hope brighter than ever.
"We met a lot of new kids. With this showcase, we could sum up all the Filipina ballers and make them realize their opportunities," he told SPIN Life, sharing his brief moment of appreciation of the fruitful tour.
Aquino identifies the likes of Vanessa de Jesus of Duke University, Amaya Bonner (a West Coast top 20), Kayla Padilla of Penn WBB, Maliah Bombrick, and Alexis Marks as the top priority of the team that could make good additions to the program's future international tournaments, including Fiba and the Southeast Asian Games.
The seasoned mentor, however, also considered the situation in the far future. He's also established connections with high school and club team coaches all over the States. Aquino even met up with former SMB practice player, Ricky Magallanes, who's based in Washington, to beef up the recruiting network.
"I'm just so grateful and very happy. A lot of the kids and their families are showing interests. There would be very young kids that we can keep in touch with for the future," he said.
Aquino added: "It's not just playing basketball, but also opening doors for the future. We can set the outlooks of Fil-Ams, starting with the likes of Vanessa, the pure Filipinas playing in the D1, and open them to the realization na they can represent the country."
He also shared that he's planning to personally visit De Jesus in Duke and meet with her coach, Kara Lawson, to create a link between the college team and the Philippines.