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Jack Animam admits WNBA dream is still far away

At just 22 years young, Jack Animam already boasts a résumé that only a few could dream of ever having.

In her five-year stay at National University, she collected the UAAP Season 80 Most Valuable Player trophy, UAAP Season 81 Finals MVP plum, four All-UAAP team citations, UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year, and five championships.

When she moved to Shih Hsin University last year, she not only won her sixth collegiate championship. She was also hailed as the Best Rebounder of the University Basketball Alliance with per-game counts of 14.1 boards.

On the international stage, the 6-foot-2 native of Bulacan also helped the country end its drought in the Southeast Asian Games, winning not just one but two gold medals in 2019.

And yes, she ended her collegiate career with a personal-record of 96-0.

Many would say that the only stage left for Animam is the Women’s National Basketball Association — the pinnacle of the sport. But for her, she still needs more games before she can even think of going stateside.

“Siyempre, lahat ng athlete, gusto ma-reach ‘yung highest league kung anuman meron sa sports nila. WNBA is always a dream. I still have a long, long, long way to go,” she told The Game.

“I’m just focusing on the things I can reach which hopefully leads me to the WNBA dream.”

Animam admitted that she underwent a learning curve when she arrived in Taiwan.

Unlike the Philippine-style of play, Taiwanese basketball is more like the international game where you can’t be too physical.

Animam had to learn this the hard way. She was in constant foul trouble when the tournament started back in November.

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“Filipino basketball, ‘pag sinabi mo ‘yun, physical tayo maglaro eh. Dito, ‘yun adjustment ko. Sa atin, hindi foul, pero sa kanila foul. Madaming games na first three minutes pa lang ng laro, two or three fouls na ko. Nung una, nafru-frustrate ako, asking myself, ‘How I can play basketball here?’ ‘Yung coach ko here always tells me na maging calm ako,” said Animam, who committed an average of 2.4 fouls per game in the Tigers’ 18-0 run to the title.

“Pero hindi ako nag-foul out dito, hindi ako grumaduate.”

But she was able to adjust.

Just like in NU, Animam was dominant with SHU, averaging 17.1 points, 2.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks per contest.

Besides improving on her defense, Animam grew out of her comfort zone. She also learned to live independently, which will be important if she continues to play overseas.

“Siguro, in terms of being a basketball player, ako sa sarili ko, laki ng pinagbago ko from the past years na naglalaro ako. ‘Yung free throw shooting, struggle ako dati sa UAAP, sa tingin ko nag-improve. Also komportable na ko sa low post,” she said.

“Also as a person, ‘yung pakikisama at ‘yung pag-adapt sa kung ano ‘yung gusto nila.”

Besides playing in the US, Animam can also head to China or Europe. That is why Animam, who is finishing a masters degree as well, is keeping all her doors open.

“Actually, as of now, no definite plans yet. I’m still exploring my options and I am open to anything. I am not closing my doors on anything. I’m just ready to go out there.”

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