Dominique Cabading makes Phillipines’ Women’s National Basketball Team

Dominique Cabading (first year) at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. September 29, 2022. Hudson Johnson/The Occidental

Dominique Cabading (first year), a new addition to the Occidental women’s basketball team, will be playing at a national level: Cabading made the Philippines’ 18 and under women’s national basketball team this year. Cabading said she has been playing basketball for years, having been on club and school teams from third grade through high school and beyond.

Cabading said she has strong family ties to the Philippines — she has gone to visit most summers since she was five. According to Cabading, her dad took her to meet players from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) during her first trip, and they encouraged her to keep playing basketball and stay in contact.

“This past summer I went back and I played with the women’s national team, and they liked how I played,” Cabading said. “I was super fortunate to have that opportunity.”

A fifth-generation San Francisco resident, Cabading is the first person in her family to leave the Bay Area for college. She said her mom played basketball in high school, and her dad helped inspire her passion for the sport.

“My dad played on random leagues and my mom and I would go to the games. I would just be around basketball all the time,” Cabading said.

She said her family members are her biggest supporters, and they never let her think she cannot do something.

“I would also say my brother is my biggest fan. He’s younger than me, and seeing him grow up and play the same sports that I did is so cool,” Cabading said. “Although we’re very competitive, I can tell he looks up to me.”

According to Cabading, she needs to obtain her dual citizenship before she can actually play for the team, but once she does, she will be playing for the national team over the summer and in a few tournaments throughout the year.

“I feel awesome. I like representing where I come from, where my heritage is from,” Cabading said. “My parents taught me about my heritage and let me go there and learn more about it. I don’t think many people get the opportunity to do that.”

Head Coach Anahit Aladzhanyan, or Coach Heat as she is called on campus, said it is an honor for an Occidental athlete to make a national sports team, and that Cabading is going to bring a lot to the table on the basketball team at Occidental.

“Dominique is fast, and she has a solid skill set,” Aladzhanyan said. “She can score at every level in terms of getting to the rack, pulling up mid range or shooting the three. She’s a multi-dimensional player.”

According to Cabading, she came to visit Occidental for basketball recruiting and met other first-year basketball players — she chose to attend because of the inclusive community.

“The team has been super welcoming,” Cabading said. “There’s three other first-years, and they’ve been awesome, and we are super close on the team. We go to events together and we all support each other.”

Gabriella Etopio (junior) is Cabading’s teammate on the basketball team and said that she is a natural leader, even as a first-year.

“She is a genuinely good person,” Etopio said. “It’s not a surprise that she would make the national team because she is such a hard worker.”

Cabading said the connections and friendships she has made are her favorite parts about playing basketball.

“My closest friends from my hometown, from when I was younger, have always been from basketball,” Cabading said. “And with the national team, it’s amazing that I’ll have those relationships with people from different walks of life that I’ll get to learn about. And we have one thing, basketball, that we are all connected on.”

Aladzhanyan and Assistant Coach Isaiah Flowers said they were very excited for Cabading.

“She is a really hard worker. She really puts in very deliberate work on a daily basis,” Aladzhanyan said. “She’s a high motor player, very intrinsically motivated and she worked really hard. We’re super proud of her, and it makes sense that she would have this awesome opportunity. She earned it.”

According to Flowers, she is also passionate about female representation and equality in athletics.

“My first time I talked to Dom was over the phone,” Flowers said. “We talked about her favorite athletes, and usually, when you talk to a new recruit, they always say their favorite players are male players. But Dom was the first one to say my favorite player is a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player.”

Cabading said she does not understand why men and women have different statuses in sports.

“We all put the same amount of effort and hard work and drive into what we are passionate about. There’s nothing more to it. Women are the same when it comes to work, or even better,” Cabading said.

Despite the pressures that come with playing at a high level of athletics, Cabading said her goal is to just have fun.

“Of course, school comes first, but with basketball, it’s something that I can use to release all my energy and have an outlet,” Cabading said. “Hopefully, I just keep getting better and keep achieving my dream.”basketb