Skip to main content

Time to do more for women’s hoops

SLAM Philippines contributor and content creator Danine Cruz had an epiphany: it’s time to do more for women’s hoops.

WORDS by Danine Cruz

I need to come clean: I don’t think I do enough for women’s basketball.

I am a 24-year-old woman working in sports media for the past five years and it’s my biggest shame to admit that I don’t think I do enough for her side of the game. I don’t watch enough games, write enough articles, shoot enough stories, tweet enough tweets. I am supposed to be her game’s biggest ally and most loyal supporter from the media and yet here I am, grappling for words and coherent thoughts for a piece about women’s basketball.

Last September, I was sent by an international organization called WINS (Women in News and Sport) to Sydney, Australia to immerse, observe, and train as commentators in the FIBA Women’s World Cup. At the highest level of women’s basketball competition, I had practically an all-access media pass.

It was an opportunity of a lifetime and honestly, I think I fumbled the bag.

I came in with bare minimum knowledge of the teams and athletes that I was going to meet there. All I knew was that they are the best basketball players in the world. I barely fangirled because, ashamedly, I am not a fangirl of anyone in there, which sucks. Because why wasn’t I? I did get a selfie with Team USA’s Kelsey Plum, but only because I learned about her days before the World Cup. Yes, it was because of her viral photo looking badass while smoking a cigar during the Las Vegas Aces’ championship parade. 

I was in the same press room as A’ja Wilson, who I eventually learned is a two-time WNBA MVP, and I did not even take a chance on asking her a question during the post-game press conference. I was literally in front of her. After one Australia game, I passed by Lauren Jackson, who is apparently an Australian basketball hero, a WNBA legend, and responsible for probably half of the gate attendance every time they have a game. I did not interview her even when I had every chance to do so.

Fast forward to two weeks after the World Cup in Sydney, I’m back in Manila, in an indoor half court, attending a panel about women’s basketball hosted by Nike. Little did I know, I was about to feel a stronger surge of guilt and regret for my lack of activity at the World Cup.

One of the stories that stood out to me during that panel was told by Mariana Lopa, a basketball lifer and grassroots development advocate. She talked about the pains of being a WNBA fan as a kid in the early 2000s. She had no choice but to settle for crumbs of information about her idol, Sue Bird. As a kid, she used to google Sue Bird photos and stats, only to be disappointed with just two pictures and a single stat line from the whole internet. Coverage and access to women’s games were so limited back then.

Hearing that story really did put things in perspective for me because two weeks ago, I was breathing the same air as Sue Bird’s teammates in Team USA. And I did nothing. I just stared, in awe, feeling a bit sheepish because I knew I was in the presence of greats yet I barely knew anything about them.

Back in the panel, coach Mau Belen, the first female coach in the PBA, kept on saying that since women receive very few opportunities, we should never take anything for granted. We must juice every single moment we can get. I was sitting a few meters away from Coach Mau and a wave of regret overcame me when I heard her words.

Damn. I did not juice that Women’s World Cup opportunity enough.

I wish I did more research, shot more videos, interviewed more players. I wish I provided more material for back home. I wish I was a bigger fan from the get-go. I wish I contributed more content for the young girls following me on Instagram–for the ones googling A’ja Wilson stats, Kelsey Plum score, Lauren Jackson interview.

I really wish I did more.

But hey, to be fair, I think I did enough for myself. Just myself. I watched more games than what was required of me. I arrived at the venue several minutes before tipoff just so I could observe Team USA, China, France, Australia, and Korea warm up. Just like a lot of sports fans in the land down under, I also drank beer during games so I can angrily scream, “Ref!!! That’s a foul!” with a glass on hand for the full experience. We don’t have that back in Manila. I watched enough games to fall in love with Australia’s starting point guard Sami Whitcomb. I made sure to watch most of the home games so I can experience chanting “Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy!” 

I did enough Oh-My-God-I’m-in-the-World-Cup-I’m-taking-in-this-moment for myself. Just myself. A bit selfish, I know. Several times during the whole trip, I asked myself, “How is this my life?” It was surreal. The whole experience christened me as a new fan. But as a woman, as a member of the media, as a lifelong fan of the game, I really wish I did more—more for beyond myself.

I know, every little thing counts. But this season feels like a time for big moves in women’s basketball. UAAP women’s basketball games are being played and televised, Jack Animam is cleared to play again after a year of recovery from a torn ACL, and the NU Lady Bulldogs are past the 100-game winning streak. It feels like the iron is so hot, it’s time to strike.

So I guess this is just me having an epiphany that as a young woman blessed to have the privilege of access to women’s games, a relationship with the community in the game, and this humble talent to tell stories, things must change.

It’s time to do more than enough.


[Photos from Nike; Danine Cruz]