RECENTLY elevated its push for women’s basketball by operating now as a professional league, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) was happy to report that it is being received warmly.

In the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, WNBL executive vice-president Rhose Montreal and league ambassador Bea Daez-Fabros shared that preparations for the first season of the WNBL as a pro league have been getting a lot of wind just as they said that a league like theirs was long time coming in the country.

The WNBL recently got its pro status with the Games and Amusements Board and is looking to follow the lead of its male counterpart in the National Basketball League.

“Even before the pandemic, there were plans to bring the WNBL to the next level which was to turn pro,” said Ms. Montreal, who is no stranger to organizing different basketball tournaments, including those for women.

The WNBL official said since news of the league turning professional, they have been swamped with a lot of applications for the draft.  

“In only two days, we drew 327 draft applicants,” said Ms. Montreal, adding they are eyeing 10 to 12 teams for their inaugural pro season, which is targeted to begin early next year.

Deadline for submission of application is set by the league on Sept. 30, to be followed by the screening from Oct. 1 to 10, draft combine on Oct. 20 to 22, and the virtual draft on Oct. 30.

For its first season as a pro league, targeted to begin early next year, the WNBL is looking at all-homegrown rosters for teams.

In its maiden staging last year, the WNBL saw the PSI Lady Air Defenders win the title, with national team standout Janine Pontejos capturing the most valuable player award.

Given the gains it has had in just a short time and propelled by its mission for the sport, Ms. Bea Daez-Fabros said the league bodes well for the women’s basketball community in the Philippines.

“It’s about time. For all female ballers this has always been a dream — to have a pro league,” said Ms. Daez-Fabros, who played for the University of the Philippines in college.

“There is zero apprehension among us female players. It’s been all excitement. Everybody is trying to get back in shape even from their homes. Even the older ones (in their 40s) are coming out of retirement,” she added. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo