READY and willing to answer the call.
Despite her decision to suit up overseas, former National University Lady Bulldog star center Jack Danielle Animam remains committed to the Gilas Pilipinas women squad, according to coach Pat Aquino.
“With Jack, we have that understanding with the Taiwanese coach that she’d be allowed when the national team plays,” Aquino said in the Coaches Unfiltered podcast.
The 6-foot-5 Animam is set to play as an import for Shih Hsin University in the Taiwan University Basketball Association after a stellar collegiate career with NU where she bagged the MVP plum in 2017 and won two gold medals as member of the 5×5 and 3×3 Gilas women teams in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila last year.
It’s the same for Fil-Am Gilas women prospect Ella Patrice Fajardo, who donned the country’s colors in the 2019 FIBA 3×3 Under-18 World Cup in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and in the 2019 FIBA 3×3 Under-18 Asia Cup in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.
“About Ella, the first thing she said to me is she wanted to go to this school because they were so lenient in sending national team players to go back to their own countries to play for the national team because she’ll have two teammates who are national team (members) from Spain and they played for the national team,” offered Aquino.
“I’m so happy that Ella thought about those things, and with the schedule of FIBA, they can still play for us.”
The 5-foot-6 Fajardo, 17, has committed to Division I school Fairleigh Dickinson University at her home in New Jersey.
Both players are vital cogs of Gilas women, according to Aquino, who calls the shots for the reigning six-time UAAP women’s basketball champion Lady Bulldogs.
“They will be good for us,” said Aquino, also the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas program director for women.
Aquino, 49, said it would have been a busy year for the women’s program if not for the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 FIB Under-18 Women’s World Cup in Hungary, the 2020 FIBA 3×3 Under-23 World Cup in China, and the 2020 Jones Cup were all affected by the coronavirus crisis.
“There were supposed to be a lot of activities and tournaments for this year but unfortunately, the pandemic really halted everything,” said Aquino.