Bulldogs take Tigresses to the limit
Facing the biggest threat to the UAAP women’s basketball throne it has sat on for years, National University (NU) dug as deep as it could and barely kept its title retention bid alive in Season 86, thanks in large part to University of Santo Tomas (UST) continuing to make the same mistakes.
“We are still alive,” Bulldogs coach Aries Dimaunahan said on the heels of escaping the Tigresses, 72-70, on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “We always set a modest goal for our team every time, every day we step on the court, and today’s mindset was just to stay alive.”
The drive for their eighth straight title got a new lease on life with the scrappy win, with the decider slated on Wednesday against the hard-luck Tigresses who are seeking a first championship since 2006.
Santo Tomas built a nine-point cushion early but slowly crumbled, a recurring problem for the Tigresses in their recent games. And a 10-0 National U run had the Bulldogs taking a 54-50 lead they would never relinquish.
Kent Pastrana had a chance to level the game for Santo Tomas while in transition with 17.4 seconds left only for Gypsy Canuto to force the prolific Tigress to give up possession.
Pastrana had another chance to win it all for the Tigresses, only to miss a step back triple while being hounded by Stefanie Berberabe which sealed UST’s fate.
“Our main focus was the bits and pieces needed to be done in order to get the results that we want. Proud of the ladies for doing a great job today, turning the tide around playing for each other, no one quitting from us. Although [UST] took an early lead, no one crumbled from us,” Dimaunahan said.
“That goes to show our character, we really wanted to live and fight another day and we got what we wanted today, so it’s even-steven,” he went on.
Karl Pingol helped the Bulldogs with her 14 points and five rebounds while Princess Fabruada contributed 13 points on 71.4 shooting.
But it was Camille Clarin who showed up once again for the Bulldogs, who lost a Finals match for the first time last Sunday, 76-72. She finished with 18 points and eight assists. INQ