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Basketball will forever be considered the Philippines’ unofficial national sport, as history evidences the people’s unwavering support and criticality. With cagers populating the broadcasts, showcasing local or international fixtures, the once male-dominated sport undergoes a timely reform—welcoming the fledgling female talent across the archipelago.

2013 saw the emergence of Jack Animam, from an avid badminton fanatic from Bulacan to inadvertently becoming a pillar of the country’s female basketball program. With no concrete background nor aspirations to participate in the sport, basketball initially posed as a means to an education.

Embarking on a road less traveled, women’s basketball initially did not present many opportunities beyond the collegiate level. Despite the number of hurdles, Animam’s unwavering spirit paved her way to international representation, becoming a key component in the Philippines’ increasing love for women in basketball.

Complex Philippines talks to Jack about her undeterred commitment to basketball despite the initial lack of opportunities, and being the voice to amplify the growing female talent and love for the game.

How did you get started in basketball and who are your influences?

I didn’t like basketball at first. I enjoyed playing badminton. I was offered by my high school principal to join the girls’ basketball team. I declined, considering it to be a male sport.

But he was persistent (probably due to my height). It wasn’t a life-changing decision initially, but I didn’t have anything to lose. On the first day of training, I was overwhelmed by my teammates’ abilities. I had zero knowledge of how to play.

Did you have a turning point or a moment when you realized, “Oh I actually like this and that I’m good at it?”

We won a city-organized tournament, and I later joined Pangasinan’s Palarong Pambansa in 2012. We didn’t win a game. If you know the term “banban,” that’s how I described myself at the time.

When I was 13 years old, a lady invited me to play in Manila, and possibly represent the country. I didn’t know a female program existed, but it gave me the opportunity to study for free in Manila. I consulted my sister; she supported me, knowing it was an avenue to finish my studies—[which was] all I wanted at the time.

In second year high school, I moved to Adamson University and represented the country in the U18 FIBA Gilas Pilipinas Women’s 3×3 tourney, though I felt as if my height was my only contributing factor. I didn’t play well, but I left everything on the court at every opportunity.

Fast forward to college, I was awarded the Rookie of the Year and Mythical Five honors in my first two years. Winning those made me feel like I was getting the hang of things, though I still wanted to hone my craft.

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Give us a peep behind the curtain. How is the culture and the energy behind women’s basketball right now? Does the team have chips on their shoulders?

While we didn’t win a single game at the FIBA 3×3 tournament, the venue was filled with spectators that came to Bulacan to support us despite the rains. Hearing the cheers after every possession, it felt like we won the hearts of the Filipino people, even if they didn’t know who we were.

During a press conference, I was asked about what is lacking in women’s basketball. I said that while we felt such an electric atmosphere, there is a lack of exposure to capture all of it. Many Filipinos do not know it exists. There are tournaments in college, but coverage isn’t the same compared to men’s basketball.

I mentioned that we can start by possibly broadcasting games, even if it’s only once a week, hoping to gain curiosity from the basketball community moving forward.

It felt like that day was when I changed my goal, to not only have a college degree, but to put Women’s Basketball on the map. I leave everything on the court to show that we exist, we’re here to stay, and the Philippines has so much talent.

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How do you see women’s basketball evolving and how do you see your part in it?

What we did during the FIBA Asia Women’s Championship is only a glimpse of what Philippine Women’s Basketball can do in the future. We’ve been promoted to the first level of FIBA Asia twice and we got a glimpse of the best in the world—China, Japan, South Korea, Chinese-Taipei, and now Australia and New Zealand.

But this year, Coach Pat said that we’ve been in this division for many years already. We don’t want to just stay in Division A, but also compete. In our most recent run, we beat Chinese-Taipei for the first time, marking our first win in our pool play. It was one of the best feelings ever, having seen the program’s lowest of lows to where it is today.

It was such a proud moment, being able to play in the semifinals for the first time in history. We came up short, losing only by five points to a squad that had blown us out before. It shows na kaya talaga [It shows that’s possible].

The FIBA U16 Women’s National team also recently got promoted to Division A. If this program continues, I can’t imagine the heights we’ll be able to achieve in the future. This is just the sign of greater things to come.


COMPLEX participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means COMPLEX gets paid commissions on purchases made through our links to retailer sites. Our editorial content is not influenced by any commissions we receive.

© Complex Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Photography Borgy Angeles
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara and James Francisco
Interview and Story Gelo Lasin and Xavi Bautista
Styling Assist Jana Silao assisted by Sophie Silao
Makeup Nadynne Esguerra
Hair Patrick John
Production Complex Philippines
Location Bulb Studios

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COMPLEX participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means COMPLEX gets paid commissions on purchases made through our links to retailer sites. Our editorial content is not influenced by any commissions we receive.

© Complex Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved. is a part of

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