THE Gilas Pilipinas women’s team will be in for a tough title defense bid in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this May with the expected absence of seasoned anchor Jack Animam.
Ms. Animam last week went through ACL surgery after an injury-hit campaign in Serbia, leaving a huge hole in the Gilas squad that is out to capture a second straight gold medal in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“Jack’s recovery would take at least six months so we may not have her for the SEA Games,” coach Pat Aquino told The STAR.
“It will be a hard one without Jack, but we will do our best. The rest of her teammates will do everything to get that gold again,” he added.
Ms. Animam, the 6-foot-5 ace, led the Philippines to a twin-gold medal harvest in 2019 by ruling the traditional 5-on-5 event and the inaugural 3×3 hoopfest.
The National University standout since then embarked on an international journey with stints in Taiwan for Shih Hsin University (SHU) and in Serbia for Radnicki Kragujevac.
Ms. Animam steered SHU to a perfect championship run and made a solid impression in Serbia behind a double-double average of 20.0 points and 14.3 rebounds before suffering an unfortunate injury last month.
Without her service this time for the SEA Games, Aquino will bank on a hybrid unit led by veterans Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos as well as young bloods Ella Fajardo and Camille Clarin. — John Bryan Ulanday