Perlas Pilipinas’ Jack Danielle Animam couldn’t keep the tears from falling as she talked about the home crowd that had gone wild at their close-fought match against Germany during Day 1 of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup.
“We live for that moment. Yun ‘yung first time. Ang sarap lang sa feeling kasi ‘yung paghihirap namin, may nakaka-appreciate pala,” Animam said while wiping her eyes. Sana…hinihiling ko sa lahat na suportahan [ang women’s basketball]. ‘Yun talaga ang kailangan naming lahat.”
It’s not just the tears we should be talking about. What world do we live in, that the national team is brought to tears because it was the first time to feel that kind of support? Minutes earlier, Animam had vented her frustrations about the lack of opportunities for female ballers in the Philippines.
“Ang men, after college may PBA. Why not kaming mga babae? Pare-parehas lang naan naming athlete,” said the reigning UAAP MVP. “Deserve din naman siguro namin magkaroon ng semi-pro league para sa amin.”
Animam, along with the whole Perlas squad competing in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup—Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Gemma Miranda—had pointed to a lack of exposure and experience as the main difficulty in getting our national team up to global speed.
Coach Patrick Aquino, who also coaches the NU Lady Bulldogs, backed them up. “It’s really hard for them because after training so hard, playing throughout college, getting all those awards, wala na,” Aquino said. “Ang inaasahan lang nila for now is the Philippine team, which for my part, may stumbling block na naman kasi hindi tayo kasama sa Asian Games. It’s hard to start up again for next year because everyone is expecting us to have a gold medal [at the SEA Games] next year.”
The 3×3 World Cup is the program’s only international competition for 2018. Aquino added, “If you want to really show kung gaano kami kagaling, dapat suportahan niyo kami.”
“Kailangan na rin siguro magkaroon ng foundation [sa Pilipinas] para sa 3×3. Diba ‘yung 3×3 magiging Olympic sport na siya sa 2020? Kaya kailangan may [local] competitions din for 3×3,” suggested Animam. “Sa UAAP, nagkaroon ng inaugural 3×3 competition last season. That’s good kasi yung bang players ma-e-expose na hindi lang for whole court pero half court game din.”
Support needs to come in sooner, too. Animam rued the disparity of accessibility of sports camps for young boys and girls. “Diba other countries at an early age, tine-train nila hindi lang lalaki pero everyone? ‘Yun ang kulang sa Pilipinas. Walang suporta para sa women’s basketball,” she said.
“Nandito kami hindi lang para sa sarili namin kundi para sa buong bansa. Im encouraging everyone to support women’s basketball,” stressed Animam. “It would be a great help hindi lang para sa amin kundi para sa next generation ng basketball.”
Photos by Mia Montayre