April 14, 2024

WNBA next? Head-turning play of Vanessa de Jesus gets Filipino fans excited for future

WNBA next? Head-turning play of Vanessa de Jesus gets Filipino fans excited for future
FIBA | Art by Royce Nicdao

Vanessa de Jesus, Gilas Pilipinas Women’s prized recruit from the Duke Blue Devils in the US NCAA, has proven to be as good as advertised.

In three games playing for the national team in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, de Jesus has averaged 18.3 points per game, including 25 big ones in Gilas’ rousing win over Chinese Taipei on Wednesday. In fact, the 5-foot-8 playmaker has scored the second-most points in the tournament so far with 55 markers in 3 games, on 50% shooting from the field overall (good for fourth best in the tournament) and 53.1% shooting from 2-point range (sixth best among all players).

Again, as good as advertised.

Naturally, Filipino fans are impressed. As they should be.

"Vanessa de Jesus is the future of Philippine women's basketball," said Twitter user @albertoibanez20. 

"Husay nung Vanessa de Jesus," Pinoy fan @joethegreat03 tweeted. 

Yes, de Jesus is the real deal. She can hoop with the best of ‘em. And for all the talk about Kai Sotto potentially becoming the first homegrown Filipino to make it to the NBA, not enough is being said about de Jesus possibly breaking through as the first full-blooded Filipino to make it to the WNBA, the premier league in women’s hoops.

"Soon to be a WNBA player," netizen Jayzan Mariano commented on One Sports' Facebook page. 

"We might see a first full-blooded Pinay in the WNBA," Facebook user Lem Dineros added. 

That might very well be next for the sweet-shooting playmaker, who already holds the distinction as being the first-ever Asian to play for the women’s basketball team of Duke.

"It's always been a dream of mine to play in the WNBA and just play pro basketball,” de Jesus said before in her press conference announcing her Gilas commitment. “As a little kid, you always dream of getting drafted and playing on the highest stage possible."

It is a dream, all right, but it appears well within the realms of reality. After all, de Jesus has much of the same skill sets—great shooting, fire handles, and pinpoint passing—as some of the WNBA’s premier playmakers, like 5-foot-9 Skylar Diggins-Smith, 5-foot-8 Courtney Vandersloot, and 5-foot-9 Sue Bird.

But that dream will have to wait—at least for now. 

On Friday, de Jesus will attempt to lead Gilas Women once more in the Women's Asia Cup as they battle New Zealand for a spot in the semifinals. Catch the game live at 3 p.m. on One Sports and One Sports+.

(GM)