‘Invincible’ Animam racks up unbeaten run in Taiwan
It didn’t take Jack Danielle Animam long to feel at home at Shih Hsin University (SHU) in Taiwan.
The moment she saw the Tigers’ uniform for the University Basketball Association (UBA), she knew straight away that finding meaning in playing overseas wouldn’t be much of a challenge.
“When they handed me our jersey when I saw its design, I couldn’t help but smile. It’s like I never really left National University (NU),” Animam told the Inquirer on Saturday.
“It has the same design, the same colors of our uniform during my last season at NU. So every time I’m playing, I can’t help but think about NU,” she added.
The most inescapable comparison, however, is the fact that SHU, defending champion of the UBA’s women’s basketball tournament, has put Animam in yet another no-lose situation.
Animam ended her career in NU without a loss as the Lady Bulldogs have racked up 96 straight victories—a streak that remains active to this day—on the way to six University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) crowns.
Count the fact that Animam hasn’t lost a game in Taiwan, where the Tigers are currently 17-0 (win-loss), it isn’t a stretch to say the 6-foot-5, 22-year-old center is unbeatable as a collegiate player.
And Animam can stretch that streak a game longer.
The Tigers made quick work of Fo Guang University, 82-42, on Saturday to advance to the tournament final, where they would face either Chinese Cultural University or Taiwan Normal in a you-or-me duel for all the marbles this Sunday.
And just like at NU, Animam, has been nothing short of dominant for SHU.
She has been averaging a double-double of 17 points and 13.7 rebounds.
So it really feels like home for Animam outside the country’s shores.
And yet, she will be the first to say that she doesn’t let her past achievements carry her in her next game.
“It’s not over. Sure, it feels good to be in this position again. But we need that one last push to get to our goal,” the former UAAP’s Most Valuable Player said.
“We can’t be complacent. As they would always say, the game ain’t over until the final buzzer,” she added. “We’re going to go out there and give our best so as to not waste our sacrifices and the support that people have thrown our way.”
And it is with a dash of serendipity that Animam is afforded an opportunity to do something extraordinary at a time when women are being celebrated around the world as part of International Women’s Month.
“Celebrating by playing the game I love? And on a big stage? It’s quite the feeling,” she said.
“I think this moment will always be meaningful for me.”