UAAP Finals: Injured Animam the inspiration for Lady Bulldogs' gutsy Game 1 win
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 20, 2019 03:40 PM
(Photo by Arvin Lim)
Jack Danielle Animam has been a constant for National University in its dynastic run through the UAAP Women’s Basketball Tournament.
For the first time in her five-year career as a Lady Bulldog, however, Animam missed Game 1 of the Season 82 Finals due to a facial injury.
"She's not here yet because she has an eye injury," head coach Pat Aquino shared. "No surgery, but she has to stay there first for precaution. She's being examined day-to-day and hopefully, she comes back before Saturday."
The multiple time champion suffered a right orbital fracture in her tour of duty for Gilas Pilipinas Women in the 2019 FIBA Olympic Pre-qualifying Tournament in New Zealand last Saturday.
Because of that face injury, she was barred from flying back home and was thus out of action as National U began its best-of-three Finals opposite University of Sto. Tomas.
Animam was very much there in spirit, however, as her teammates channeled her fight to come out on top of the very game Tigresses. "I'm sad in such a way that Jack wasn't here playing with us, but happy in such a way that everybody else stepped up," her mentor said.
Of course, the Lady Bulldogs were out to win one for their injured teammate.
"We talked earlier. Sabi niya, 'Coach, kayo na bahala dyan,'" Coach Pat said. "Sabi ko naman, 'This is for you.'"
Kelli Hayes shared the same sentiment. As she put it, "Of course, we missed Jack not playing with us here. We played for her."
And come Game 2 on Saturday, the blue and gold will still be graced by the presence of their 6-foot-5 pillar - and this time around, she will be there in person.
Whether or not she will be in action, though, is yet to be determined. "She can play naman, but she has to have a mask on. We'll see," the National U tactician said.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.