Animam hoping to play in Asian Games


JACK DANIELLE ANIMAM is strutting her wares in Serbia where she gets to polish her skills the Euro basketball way.

But the 6-foot-5 Filipino-Nigerian has one fervent dream—to play in the Hangzhou 19th Asian Games in China next year.

“I never played in the Asian Games, as in never. We were not sent the last time to Jakarta [2018] although there’s an opportunity, so we’re hoping we’ll be sent in 2022,” the 22-year-old Animam told BusinessMirror from Serbia where she’s been based for the last two months.

The Philippines last fielded a women’s basketball team in the Asian Games in the 1998 Bangkok edition primarily because as a team sport that hardly created a dent in the Southeast Asian Games, sports leaders then felt it was costly to send one.

“So I’m praying this time we will be sent there,” said Animam, who led the country to its first women’s basketball gold medal in the Philippines 2019 SEA Games.

That SEA Games gold medal could very well be the women’s team’s ticket to Hangzhou which is hosting the Games from September 10 to 25, 2022.

But first up for Animam and her teammates are the 31st SEA Games which Vietnam finally agreed to host in May 2022.

“I am very excited to play in the next SEA Games. I hope it will push through,” said the Malolos (Bulacan)-born player. “They said our gold medal in 2019 was a fluke because we were the hosts then. So it’s about time to prove to that it isn’t a fluke.”

Animam averaged 11.5 points and 11.5 rebounds for the Philippines that went unbeaten in the 2019 SEA Games. But the Asian Games are far more superior in terms of height, size and skills of the participants.

In the meantime, Animam is making sure that as the first Filipino to play in the Women’s Basketball League of Serbia with the Radnicki KG, she would be doing her best to take the role of a key athlete and ambassador in the European setting.

“Playing and learning the European basketball style of play is a big exposure and a huge help to my development,” she said. “I have been to Asia and America and this is a new learning for me.”

Animam previously played in Taiwan for half a year in 2020 with Shih Hsin University in the University Basketball Association. Before that, she led National University to five titles in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, in the process hoisting the Most Valuable Player trophy.

She also had a stint with Zone 6 Celtics in the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League in the US last June before moving to Serbia.

Animam debuted with 20 points and 14 rebounds in the Serbian league, leading Radnicki KG to a 78-77 win over Proleter ZR last Saturday at the SBB Hala Jezero in Kragujevac, Serbia. Her team plays Crvena Zvezda on Saturday.

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