Henson, Roman join Gilas pool

Filipino-Americans Mai-Loni Henson and Sofia Roman are expected to be back in action to lead the national women’s basketball team in its drive for its third straight gold medal in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh this May.

Gilas Women head coach Patrick Aquino told Daily Tribune that he had already included Henson and Roman in the long list of 24 players that was submitted by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the Philippine Olympic Committee to the SEA Games organizing committee.

From the pool, the federation will pick the final 12 players who will make the final roster during the delegation registration meeting.

The 6-foot-1 Henson appears to have an inside track of making the national squad.

The former Washington star who also plays professionally in the French League is eligible to play in the prestigious biennial meet for having a Philippine passport.

Aquino said her case is similar to National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson, who is a Fil-Am but is considered as a naturalized player.

“She is a Fil-Am but in FIBA (International Basketball Federation) tournaments, she’s categorized as a naturalized player,” Aquino said.

“But she’s already a Philippine passport holder so there will not be a problem playing in the SEA Games.”

While Henson is already a cinch to make it, Roman still has to work for her spot as she had been away from the game since seeing action in the 28th SEA Games in Singapore in 2019.

While taking a breather, Roman decided to pursue careers in modeling and media in which she was part of the broadcast team of the National Basketball Association and Women’s NBA.

But she had already rejoined Gilas Women training and is said to be serious in clinching a spot while other Fil-Ams will be arriving at the end of this month or early April.

Aside from Henson and Roman, also included in the long list are other abroad-based players like former youth standout Kristan Yumul, Stefanie Berberabe and Ella Fajardo.

Other members of the pool bannered by French League campaigner Jack Animam are Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Chack Cabinbin, Khate Castillo, Clare Castro, Kacey Dela Rosa, Katrina Guytingco, Camille Clarin, Angel Surada, Mikka Camacho, Monique del Carmen, Kristine Cayabyab, Andrea Tongco, Louna Ozar, Jhazmin Joson, Aurea Gingras, Kennan Ka and Kate Bobadilla.

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