The FIBA 3x3 World Cup brought world-class games and excitement to the Philippines—and there was no shortage of badass women making their mark on basketball’s international stage. Here are some of the most empowering moments from the World Cup.
Janine Pontejos earns the Philippines’ first-ever medal
Perlas Pilipinas’ Janine Pontejos gave the Philippines its first-ever medal at the senior level of the FIBA 3x3 World Cup after making it rain in the shootout. Even though Perlas bowed out of the main competition, Pontejos notched 14 points to beat both male and female competitors in the co-ed shootout.
Pontejos, who is also an assistant coach at Centro Escolar University, said: “Ipinagmamalaki ko na Pilipino ako, at para sa Pilipinas ito!”
Iran makes history
Women playing in hijab used to be forbidden by FIBA because of fears that the headgear would fall off and get in the way of players. After fans and players petitioned against the rule, FIBA overturned it in 2017; now, the Iranian women’s team made history by winning their first-ever game wearing their hijab!
It was a big 21-12 win against Andorra, too. So even though that turned out to be the lone victory for Masoumeh Esmaeilzadeh Soudjani, Mozhgan Khodadadi, Kimiya Yazdian Tehrani, and Saiedeh Elli in the tournament, the team said it’s an important step in showing young girls in Iran that wearing a hijab is not a hindrance to learning basketball.
Jack Danielle Animam speaks up for women’s basketball
It’s no secret that women’s basketball gets way less support that men’s basketball in the Philippines. After Perlas Pilipinas’ loss to Germany, UAAP MVP Jack Danielle Aninam got real in the press room.
“Ang men, after college may PBA. Why not kaming mga babae? Pare-parehas lang naman kaming athlete,” said Animam, who plays for the NU Lady Bulldogs and is the reigning UAAP MVP. “Deserve rin naman siguro namin magkaroon ng semi-pro league para sa amin.”
The underdog squad gave Germany a scare—“Alam kong natakot sila,” Animam said—but unanimously said the Pinoy basketball community needs to invest and give female ballers more opportunities to play if they are to compete in the international level. Animam’s ideas? More basketball camps aimed towards young girls, a foundation for 3x3 basketball, and a semi-pro league where collegiate players can keep growing after college.
“Nandito kami hindi lang para sa sarili namin kundi para sa buong bansa. I’m encouraging everyone to support women’s basketball,” Animam said. “It would be a great help hindi lang para sa amin kundi para sa next generation ng basketball.” We’re with you, Jack!
Italy’s Rae Lin D’Alie becomes crowd favorite among Filipinos
The Philippines loves underdog stories, which is why it’s no surprise that the crowd cheered for Italy as they sought to dethrone the defending champs Russia and get their first-ever World Cup gold in the women’s finals. They did, with diminutive Rae Lin D’Alie making the key baskets to be crowned MVP.
D’Alie stands just 5’4” but had one of the biggest personalities in the competition. After their win, Pinoy fans crowded at the sidelines, asking D’Alie for her headband, which she gamely flicked slingshot-style into the audience before chest-bumping them and yelling “PUSO!” like a local.
Her message to everyone watching? “If you have a dream, go get it!”