Animam, cagebelles eye 3rd SEAG gold

Jack Animam will be making a return to lead the national women’s team in its bid for its third straight gold medal in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia this May.

Animam, who helped the Nationals win a pair of gold medals in the Manila edition of the Games in 2019, will be seeing action for the first time since tearing her anterior cruciate ligament last year.

With the injury, the 6-foot-5 Animam was forced to sit out when the Nationals won the SEA Games gold medal in the 5×5 event in Hanoi last year.

Gilas coach Patrick Aquino said Animam will be flying to Manila around April following her stint for Toulouse Metropole Basket in France.

“She’ll be back by mid-April,” Aquino, also the project director of the national women’s cage program, told Daily Tribune in a telephone interview.

“Jack went to Europe to let her get back the feel of the action, while at the same time, playing at a much higher level.”

Also tipped to banner Gilas Women are Afril Bernardino, Stefanie Berberabe and Ella Fajardo.

Bernardino, also a key figure in the cagebelles’ back-to-back conquests, will be making a return after spending six months of training with the Philippine Navy.

She will be returning as an enlisted officer who is ready to help the squad realize its vision of emerging with its third straight SEA Games title.

Berberabe is one of the five Fil-Americans vying for spots in the national squad.

She was part of the Westmont squad that won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics title in the United States a few years ago where she also emerged as Player of the Year.
Fajardo, a guard from Farleigh Dickinson Knights in New Jersey who won a bronze in the FIBA 3×3 U18 Asia Cup in India in 2019, is trying to fight for a spot in the 5×5 squad for the SEA Games.
Aquino said their preparations are now in high gear.

“We’ve been practicing six times a week now. We’re busy with our preparations pending the arrival of Jack, who will join us mid-April and the Fil-Am players, who will join us either late March or early April,” Aquino said.

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