MANILA, Philippines -- When Filipina basketball star Jack Animam signed with Radnički Kragujevac, her new team made their expectations of her quite clear.
"I think Jack will be the leader of this team this season," said head coach Nenad Milovanović, when Animam was formally announced as a part of their team.
It's a role that Animam is familiar with, having been a leader for National University (NU) during her collegiate days and even with the Gilas Pilipinas Women.
Still, this is a new challenge for Animam who will be expected to lead a young team, most of whom she is only getting to know now after her arrival in Serbia last week. It's also additional responsibility for the 22-year-old who is playing as a professional for the first time.
But Animam, a five-time UAAP champion with the Lady Bulldogs, said the high expectations and pressure do not bother her.
"I mean, yes it's pressure for me," Animam said on the "Post-Game" podcast. "Going out to a country, especially my first time there… I mean, pressure will always be there, no matter what we do, where we are, it's gonna be there."
"It's a matter of how you will handle it, how will you keep doing what you do in spite of that pressure," she said.
While this is her first stint as a professional player, Animam has played as an "import" before, having suited up for Shih Hsin University in Taiwan's University Basketball Association. Much like in NU, Animam was also dominant there, and Shih Hsin went unbeaten with her in the 2020-21 season.
Playing in Taiwan has helped Animam prepare for the pressure that comes with being a reinforcement.
"Being an import to a team, it comes," she pointed out. "It's a package. Of course, they will expect high from you, because they got you, because they see something in you."
Rather than be rattled by these expectations, Animam only becomes more motivated.
"I will prove myself to them, that I am worth it, that you're not gonna ever regret giving me this opportunity," she vowed.
Animam's contract with Radnički Kragujevac runs until March 2022.
To hear more of Animam's thoughts on her basketball journey as well as her coach's analysis of her game and her progress, check out the "Post-Game" podcast.