Jack Danielle Animam, arguably the most accomplished homegrown Filipina basketball player today, was not exactly sure about her future when, at 12, she left her hometown of Lugam, Malolos to try her luck in the Big City.
Thirteen years later, she recounted her blessings—from fruitful campaigns with the National University and the national team, an overseas stint as an import in the Serbian women’s basketball league to being part of a cover of a sports magazine and Nike brand ambassador.
“Siksik, liglig, umaapaw,” was how she began her long social media post.
“I was 12 years (old) when I left Lugam (Malolos). I didn’t know what kind of life is waiting for me in the Metro, all I know is I can study for free and that was enough for me to have the courage to leave my comfort zone. And as they say, what happens next is history.”
The past weeks have been an overwhelming experience for Animam, a 6’5” lady cager who was born to a Nigerian father Ayo Jackson Animam, and a Filipina mother Erlinda Santo Tomas.
“Sabay-sabay lahat. From (Cambodia) SEA games, to the launch of the first-ever SLAM (Magazine) issue in the PH and my Nike campaign. I never imagined these things, and it is my reality now. I can’t still even fathom everything that happened.”
Animam said her plan was just to get free studies in college and get a good job. “That’s why I studied hard. ‘Di ako matalino pero masipag ako. Kasi ‘di ba sabi nga nila ‘pag may tiyaga may nilaga? So I used basketball to study. Little did I know, God has a different plan for me,” Animam added.
“If you told me this 10 years ago, that I would be able to do this and that, I wouldn’t believe you.”
Animam was encouraged by her high school principal to try basketball to become part of the school squad. With hesitation, she obliged. But her skills were further developed under coach Pat Aquino, when he took her under his wings at NU where they built the Lady Bulldogs’ empire that won six straight UAAP titles during her stay in the school.
Then, she joined Shin Hsin University for her master’s degree in public relations and helped the school clinch the2020–21 season of the Taiwan University League with an 18–0 win–loss record.
As a national player, also under coach Aquino, Animam was a two-time gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games. Her pro basketball career brought her to Serbia and France as an import.
At 25, she’s not done yet.
“I know we’re just getting started on the greater things! Malayo pa, pero malayo na,” she said.