Leaving the comforts of home, Animam all set to bring her game to Taiwan

Jack Animam’s (center) dominance down low often compels opposing teams to throw more than just single coverage on her. —PHOTOS BY SHERWIN VARDELEON

It’s a new scenario and a challenge that’s literally beyond the borders of her comfort zone. But the country’s finest female basketball player said she doesn’t intend to reinvent herself when she suits up as an import in Taiwan’s University Basketball Association.

“I’d bring the same intensity and the same leadership I had in [National University],” Jack Danielle Animam said in a mix of Fili­pino and English during the latest episode of SportsIQ’s “Home and Away,” which will stream on Facebook on Sunday night.

Animam has a lot to offer in intensity and leadership—and in measurable departments of the game. Under her, National U has ran a streak of 96 straight won games in the UAAP leading to six straight basketball championships for the school. And she intends to carry every facet of her game to her new campus.

“I need to do well. After all, they made an effort to bring me with them. It’s a way for me to repay that gesture,” she said of Shih Hsin University (SHU), the school where she will be playing as a foreign reinforcement.

Animam (second from right) celebrates with her teammates during a win in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. With her is Afril Bernardino (No. 3), who has also played overseas.

Animam, who averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds in last year’s UAAP season, is riding a wave of basketball talents taking their acts overseas.

Just last week, Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena announced that he will be reinforcing B.League’s San-en NeoPhoenix and will be playing under its Asian Player Quota system.

Both were named Mr. and Ms. Basketball by the Philippine Sportswriters Association just last March.

Unlike Ravena, however, Animam will be doing more than just helping her school win on the basketball court.

At SHU, Animam will remain a student-athlete as she pursues a masters degree in public relations, something she could pair with her marketing degree from National U.

Animam had already set her sights on her destination even before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Animam soars for a basket against Malaysia in last year’s SEA Games. Animam hopes to bring her intensity and leadership to Taiwan, where she will suit up as an import. —TRISTAN TAMAYO/INQUIRER.NET

The 2015 UAAP Rookie of the Year and 2017 Most Valuable Player (MVP) told the Inquirer last April she had verbally committed to SHU after being scouted as early in January.

It is worth noting that Animam, who has won three gold medals with the Philippine team, is not the first female cager to take her talents overseas. Afril Bernardino, Gemma Miranda, Alyanna Lim, Chack Cabinbin and Andrea Tongco have played in leagues in Indonesia and Malaysia.

An integral part of the historic Southeast Asian Games squad that delivered a double-gold performance late last year, Animam said her stint in Taiwan also helps, in its own little way, grow the national program and the athletes hoping to be a part of it.

“It’s a great deal playing overseas especially when you’re playing for the country,” said Animam, who averaged 11 points, 16 rebounds and close to three blocks a game when she won her lone UAAP MVP in 2017. “You’ll get to apply everything that you’ve learned when duty calls.”

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