Coach challenges 'amazing' Jack Animam to keep improving

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2021 01:16 PM

Gilas Pilipinas Women's center Jack Animan. FIBA.basketball
Gilas Pilipinas Women's center Jack Animan. FIBA.basketball

MANILA, Philippines -- Jack Animam has been superb in her first two games as a professional basketball player for Radnicki Kragujevac, but her collegiate coach has no doubt that she has more to show.

Animam, 22, is playing in the First Women's Basketball League of Serbia, where her team split its first two games. The former National University (NU) wasted no time proving that she belonged in the league, putting up 20 points and 14 rebounds in a 78-77 win over Proleter Zrenjanin in their first game.

In their next assignment, Animam was even better -- she notched 29 points and 12 rebounds against Crvena Zvezda, the defending champions. However, she got little support from the locals in a 104-66 defeat.

For Pat Aquino, who coached Animam in NU, watching his player perform at this level has been "amazing."

"You know, I didn't expect na from the start, na magiging ganoon agad 'yung laro niya," admitted Aquino during an appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning.

"But you know, si Jack 'yun eh," he added. "That's Jack. Alam mo naman kung paano maglaro si Jack, talagang todo lagi."

During her time with the Lady Bulldogs, Animam won five UAAP championships and went unbeaten in her collegiate career. In late 2020, she played for the Shin Hsin University and helped them rule the University Basketball Association in Taiwan.

Animam is also a mainstay of the Gilas Pilipinas Women's basketball program, and in 2019 she won two Southeast Asian Games gold medals in both the 3x3 and fullcourt competitions.

"I'm just happy for her," said Aquino. "Just keep it up, what she's doing right now."

Yet while he is amazed at what Animam is doing, Aquino also believes that the Filipina center is just scratching the surface of her potential. Animam had trained in the United States earlier this year to prepare for a professional career, and has targeted the WNBA as her ultimate goal.

This is why Aquino regularly pushes Animam to work even harder and keep building on her game.

"Every time na tumatawag siya, hindi ko siya kino-congratulate. Pinapagalitan ko pa," he said. "Binibigyan ko pa ng mga, 'Ano bang gagawin mo?' Ganyan."

"So sabi ko sa kanya, do more. Don't expect na maging satisfied ka sa game mo. Learn from it, and then do more, do more things that you can flourish, and you can level up more," he added.

Animam and Radnicki will return to action this weekend against ZKK Kraljevo.

Aquino also assured that Animam should be available for the Gilas Pilipinas Women in their competitions next year, including the Southeast Asian Games that are tentatively scheduled for May 2022.

"Jack is coming back, definitely," Aquino said.