In an era where she competed against the likes of Jack Animam, Rhena Itesi, and Clare Castro in the UAAP, Snow Peñaranda is battle-ready come the start of the Women’s National Basketball League later this year.
“Siyempre sobrang saya kasi I was selected,” shared the Tondo native after she was chosen by Pacific Water with the sixth pick in the WNBL Draft last February 13, 2021.
“Pero before mag-start, excited ako for us mga players kasi nga, first time in history dito sa Philippines magkaroon ng pro league para sa mga women’s basketball. Then when the time ma’am Rhose (Montreal) called my name, mas na-excite ako kasi new team na and pro league na nga.”
Penaranda started her college basketball career with Adamson and ended with La Salle. It was no doubt a fruitful endeavor for the 28-year-old, too. She got Mythical Five gongs in UAAP Seasons 75 and 79 and a championship in Season 73.
“Nung first time ko maglaro sa UAAP, sobrang na excite ako, and at the same time kinabahan kasi ‘yung mga makakalaban ko ay mga veterans na. Pero because of them, mas na-inspired pa ‘ko pagbutihan every game ko para mabigyan ko sila nang magandang laban, and para din mas mag-improve ako,” she said.
Finishing her collegiate run as a Lady Archer, in particular, was memorable for Penaranda. While a championship with the Green and White proved elusive, her stay was still memorable.
“’Yung disiplina sa training… Like training pa lang, dapat 100-percent all-out na ko para pagdating sa game, dala-dala ko na ‘yung same effort, intensity, and high energy na ginagawa ko sa training,” she explained.
“Sobrang big help ni coach Cholo (Villanueva) sa akin. He taught me how to balance everything in my life, like sa basketball career. And pati mga decision making ko, sa kanya din ako nanghihingi ng advice until now. Sa kanya pa rin ako nanghihingi ng advice for my career. Kaya sobrang thankful kami kasi naging coach namin siya, parang na din namin siyang second father para sa aming Lady Archers.”
For his part, Villanueva feels proud to see another DLSU alumna set to play in the WNBL. She may have been teammates with them before, but Peñaranda will now go up against the likes of Camille Claro and Khate Castilo, who are with the Glutagence Glow Boosters.
“Being part of the Lady Archers has a high standard for being student-athletes where being a student always comes first. The WNBL was just icing on the cake and a dream fulfilled. But graduating from DLSU and leading a competitive team was the first priority,” said the 6-foot-1 mentor.
“We haven’t won a lot of championships, but we develop skilled players who can play at the professional level. We instill in them a relentless work ethic to achieve their goals. Most importantly we create positive members of society and good individuals.”
With women’s basketball in the Philippines targeting growth amidst being in the shadow of the men’s game, it is no surprise that many WNBL players made sure to finish their college degrees to secure their futures. Peñaranda, who currently works as a personal trainer, simply followed the trend.
“It was so important kasi DLSU was my dream school, and graduating there is such a big thing. Tapos I had the best coach and teammates pa. Complete package kumbaga,” she said.
“Siyempre mahirap. Training sa umaga, class sa hapon hanggang gabi. Pero we were taught always na student comes first before athlete. Kaya ‘di kami pwede petiks sa pag-aaral. Sobrang nakatulong ‘to sa’kin now in real life. I can balance work and things that I love such as basketball.”
Peñaranda stated that she hopes to fulfill her duties on the hardcourt with Pacific Water with her responsibilities outside of it. While the country is still under lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19, she has been busy working out at home using her long bars, plates, and punching bag.
“Yes, kaya ko naman i-balance ‘yung work and basketball career ko. Like what I’ve said before, coach Cholo taught us how to balance everything in our life. If nasa work ako, focus lang muna ko sa work. Pagtapos na ko sa work, when I step on the court, basketball naman ako mag-fofocus.”
Ultimately, Penaranda will be one of more than 100 lady hoopers itching to show their skills to Filipino sports fans. She not only has big dreams for herself, but for her fellow players.
“’Yung mapakita namin mga babae sa buong Pilipinas kung pa’no maglaro ng basketball ang mga babae, na kaya din naman mga babae mag laro ng basketball.”