Jack Animam is set to leave the country in just a few daysm as she heads to Taiwan to play for Shih Hsin University.
But before she leaves, Animam was able to get together with fellow Gilas Women’s standouts Afril Bernardino and Clare Castro during an episode of So She Did! presented by SMART Sports together with hosts Martie Bautista and Trina Guytingco.
When Bernardino and Castro heard about Animam committing to SHU, they both felt extremely happy for their friend.
“Parang sad, char,” quipped 6-foot-4 Castro, who has become one of Animam’s best friends despite playing for different schools.
“Masaya ako para kay Jack kasi nagkakwentuhan kami before na gusto niya mag-import. Inaaya niya ako na mag-apply daw kami para mag-import daw. Tapos ‘yun, ngayon mag-iimport na siya, sobrang happy ako para sa mga na-achieve niya.”
“Siyempre, sobrang proud din sa kanya and happy kasi isa siya sa nagre-represent ng Philippines,” added Bernardino, who is three years the senior of Animam.
“For long-term din naman ‘yung ipupunta niya doon, so I’m happy for her na ‘yung mga na-achieve niya sa career niya.”
Bernardino knows the plight of being a guest player in another country.
Back in 2018, the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player, Allana Limm and Chack Abinbin were tapped as imports by the Malaysian Women’s Basketball League. Bernardino then played for the Valkyrie Hatchers.
The first few months were a joy for Bernardino as she was able to play on a regular basis and learn new things.
“Nung una, siyempre feeling ko excited ako kasi may mga bago akong matututunan. Habang tumatagal naman nage-enjoy ka,” recalled Bernardino.
“Pero may kasamang hirap, lungkot, ganon. Pero wala, nandoon ka, mag-isa ka, wala ka namang kayang gawin kung hindi lakasan lang ‘yung loob mo and tanggapin lahat ng challenges na darating sa ‘yo.”
One of the things that made it a struggle was the language barrier. Besides this, there came a point that she was homesick.
“Nung unang dating ko doon, nakakapagod. As in sobrang layo ‘yung time, tapos ‘yung language nila iba. Actually, maganda naman ‘yung pagtuturo nila. Minsan meron silang translator doon so nagkakaintindihan kami. Sa mga teammates ko, hindi sila masyado nakakapagsalita ng English so kailangan kong mag-adjust,” she shared.
Then there’s the practice of her team.
Valkyrie trains in the evenings, unlike her previous teams. It was a huge change that Bernardino had to adjust to as National University trains early in the morning.
“Parang bumaligtad ‘yung time ko doon.”
Still, Bernardino was able to steer Valkyrie to the semifinals of the league before bowing to Matrix in the knockout game, 65-69.
Now that her good friend is set to embark on the same journey as she did, Bernardino hopes that Animam relishes every single day in Taiwan.
Because it’s not just her who will improve, but also the entire Gilas Women’s program.
“Para sa akin naman, Jack, alam ko naman na mag-eenjoy ka doon eh, kasi… Basta alam mo na ‘yun. Alam ko excited ka na rin pumunta doon. ‘Pag may dumating na challenges sa buhay mo doon, lakasan mo lang ‘yung loob mo. And alam kong kayang-kaya mo ‘yung trainings doon, and magaling ka rin naman makipag-communicate sa mga tao and masayahin kang tao. Siguro hindi ka naman malulungkot doon,” expressed Bernardino.
“Nakasuporta lang kami dito sa ‘yo. Isang tawag mo lang, sasagot agad kami.”
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