MANILA, Philippines -- Jack Animam has shone on every level of basketball she's played at, and her newest team has high expectations for her when she joins them.
Animam, a mainstay of the Gilas Pilipinas Women, will leave for Serbia on Friday to play for the Radnički Kragujevac, which competes in the First Women's Basketball League of Serbia.
There she will join a young team that placed eighth in the league last season, missing the playoffs. However, the team's general manager and coach are confident that with Animam on board, Radnički will have a strong campaign in the upcoming season.
"We're looking for young players for post players," said head coach Nenad Milovanović. "I was so excited to have a chance to get her to my team, because we are a very young team."
"We have two or three older girls, but Jack seems to be (a) great player here," he added.
While they have only seen videos of Animam's games, the Radnički coaching staff was suitably impressed and Milovanović expressed his confidence that Animam can impose her will in the Serbian league.
"She's so fast for her position," he said of Animam, a five-time UAAP champion with National University (NU) who went unbeaten in her collegiate career. "I think she can play with anyone in this league. She can guard anyone in this league."
"I think Jack will be the leader of this team this season," he added.
Ivan Milosevic, the team's general manager, is similarly confident that Animam will enjoy playing in Serbia, a "basketball country" much like the Philippines. He noted that women's basketball in the country is also on the rise, thanks in part to their strong performance in the Tokyo Games where they placed fourth.
"We are hearing here that Jack is very motivated to work and to hone her game and to improve herself," said Milosevic. "We are very certain that she will be better every practice, she will be better every game, and she will give the team the result we need."
"We will be a good host for her, we will try to be the best host we can, and I think she will have everything she needs here to improve her basketball game, and to improve the game of our team," he added.
Animam, who moved to the United States last year in the hopes of pursuing a professional basketball career, said she is ready for the heightened expectations.
"Yes, I'm pressured right now, but you know, pressure is always there," said the former UAAP Most Valuable Player. "I'll just be me, do my thing, you know, show my game and help the team, help my team in any way that I can. I'm just really excited to go out there and play with them."
Animam vowed to embrace the challenge of being the team's leader, while also assuring that she will do her share inside the court.
"What I can bring to my new team is that, my leadership. And really, wherever I go, on and off, I'm really vocal, so I guess that's what I can bring. My leadership," she said.
"I'm more of a defensive player, so my defensive prowess. I will bring that, you know, and getting those easy buckets, easy putbacks, you know. And, just being there with my teammates, support them, and yeah, being the role player that I am," she added.
The professional season in Serbia runs from September until April.