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World stint beckons Pinay cagers

Jack Animam believes that Filipina basketball players have what it takes to see action in the best professional leagues around the world.

The 23-year-old Filipino-Nigerian center yesterday said local players have the talent, the skills and the determination to emerge successful in the international stage.

They, however, lack the exposure that will give them the experience to bang bodies against the best basketball players in the world.

Animam is in town after a successful campaign for the ZKK Radnicki Kragujevac in the Serbian League.

She graced the game of her former team, National University, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines over the weekend before joining Gilas Women in its training on Tuesday at the Aero Center Basketball Court in Quezon City.

She said given the right amount of exposure, her teammates can also follow her path of becoming an import in major leagues in Asia, Europe and the United States.

“There aren’t many chances for us to get exposure. Sure, there are FIBA competitions, but we need more if we want to recruit players from our team,” said the 6-foot-5 Animam, who started as a collegiate standout and regular fixture in FIBA tourneys before plying her trade in Taiwan, United States and Serbia.

“We have the potential, it’s just a matter of exposure like women’s leagues. After the SEA Games, there would be a break and there won’t be anything next. Instead of progressing upwards, it goes down and you have to build it up all over again.”
Filipinos are now the toasts of international basketball.
In Japan, star players like Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos and Ray Parks were already recruited while RJ Abarrientos and SJ Belangel are now seeing action in Korea.
Same goes in Taiwan where Jason Brickman and coach Chris Gavina are competing while Kai Sotto is making his presence felt in Australia in a bid to become the first full-blooded Filipino in the National Basketball Association.
It’s not the case for Filipina cagers.
Animam and Gabi Bade are the only homegrown Filipina cagers overseas. Animam posted 20 points and 14.3 rebounds for her Serbian club before being sidelined by knee injury while Bade averaged 23.8 points for ENAB WBC in the 2022 Cyprus Women’s Basketball Division A.

A lot of players in the Philippines have the potential but have yet to be discovered.

Animam said the door of world basketball is wide open for Filipina cagers to enter.
“Afril Bernardino, Clare Castro, Katrina Guytingco, and Camille Clarin are some of the names I can think of who can make it overseas,” she said.
“A lot of players in the Philippines have the potential but have yet to be discovered.”
Aside from Animam and Bade, three more Filipino-American cagers are shining in the high school and collegiate ranks in the United States.
Yssa Santo Domingo of Wisconsin, Gianine Boado of Morton College, and Jessica Crothers of Crown Point High School are also on the rise, hoping to follow the path taken by Chanelle Molina, who got an invite to train with the Indiana Fever in the Women’s NBA.
Animam said there’s a possibility that she takes her talent to Israel, but right now, she wants to focus on sharing his experience with the Gilas Women’s team.
“To be honest, I don’t know. I’m still waiting,” she said.
“I’m still waiting so I just don’t want to think about it (yet). I just want to think about the present.”

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