A LEAGUE of their own.
While she is set to suit up as an import for Shih Hsin University in the Taiwan University Basketball Association, former National University star center Jack Danielle Animam is convinced it is high time for the country to have its own pro women’s basketball league.
“Gusto talaga naming magkaroon ng (professional) women’s league dito sa atin kasi there’s so much talent talaga,” Animam said in the So She Did! podcast.
“It’s just that there’s no avenue to show people, sayang. We have to go overseas pa just to play. Kung puwede sana, dito na lang sa atin, ‘di ba?” she added.
The 6-foot-5 Animam, who bagged the UAAP women’s basketball MVP plum in 2017, admitted she was already training her sights on an overseas stint last year but had to finish her mission for the Lady Bulldogs and the Gilas Pilipinas women squad in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
“Noong August 2019, they (SHU) came here for a training camp. After that, iyong girl coach nila, nagka-chat kami sa Instagram and then sabi niya, ‘we would like you to join us for next season.’ So ako, parang wow! Really? But then hindi pa iyon nagsi-sink in sa akin kasi I still have the UAAP to play and the SEA Games so parang hindi ko pa iyon ang priority ko that time,” said Animam.
“Wala namang official pa na nasasabi iyong managers namin sa NU na iyong SHU gusto kang kunin. After the SEA Games, doon na ako tinanong kung gusto ko daw bang maglaro sa Taiwan and sabi ko, gusto ko, doon na nagsimula ang lahat.”
In her swan song, Animam, 21, averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds in leading NU to its sixth straight title in the last UAAP women’s cage wars that also stretched its unbeaten run of 96 straight wins.
The Lady Bulldogs’ chemistry spells the big difference in their 96-game winning streak, according to Animam.
“Siguro kasi, kagaya ng sinabi ni Ate Clare (Castro, Far Eastern University center), iyong bond namin as a team, from the management, to the coaches and to the players, grabe, we’re just like one big family talaga,” said Animam.
“Siguro iyon ang advantage namin sa lahat ng teams, kahit hindi kami naglalaro, I mean, kunwari, nasa labas lang kami or sa dorm, we really try to communicate, talk to each other, just to be familiarized, pagdating sa court kasi sobrang laking bagay noon. Parang ang dali na lang, iyong chemistry ba ng team, sobrang dali na lang.”
Animam also won two gold medals in last year’s SEA Games with the women’s 3×3 and 5×5 teams.
A Malolos, Bulacan native, Animam was named Ms. Basketball by the Philippine Sportswriters Association last March 6.
In Taiwan, Animam will remain a student-athlete as she pursues a master’s degree in public relations after graduating with a marketing degree from NU.
Animam is convinced having a pro league for women will also do wonders for the national team.
“Mas nawi-widen iyong pagpipilian, iyong pool for the national team (if there’s a women’s league),” she said.