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Wed 21 February 2024

QUEENS OF THE NEW AGE: UST topples NU empire

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UAAP Season 86 heralded a new age in women’s basketball as the University of Santo Tomas (UST) successfully ended the seven-year dominance of National University (NU), 71-69, to take their first crown since 2006 in a pulsating do-or-die Finals Game 3 Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Down by as much as 15, 44-59, in the third quarter, the Growling Tigresses, anchored on graduating veteran Tantoy Ferrer’s offensive outburst, clawed back to deny the Lady Bulldogs’ bid for the longest reigning basketball dynasty in the UAAP.

Ferrer fired 9 straight points off two triples and three free throws to enable NU to inch closer, 67-69, going into the last two minutes.

But heartbreaks hounded the Tigresses again, as they have encountered in the dying minutes of the second quarter when they gave up 10 straight NU points off ticky-tack fouls, when Ferrer’s driving layup was nullified due to shotclock violation as Brigette Santos’ finger roll missed.

The nation’s most dominant women’s team, however, failed to capitalize on their foes mistakes as ace player Camille Clarin lost the ball out of bounds in her drive attempt with 34 seconds left.

Star forward Kent Pastrana tied the game in the ensuing possession, beating Clarin on a 1v1 drive to the basket.

UST’s championship basket came at the 11 second mark, with Pastrana rebounding Stef Berberabe’s miss, which resulted in an outlet pass by Rocel Dionisio to a wide-open Angelina Villasin for the go-ahead layup.

The Tigresses had one last defensive stance, forcing NU’s leading scorer Kristine Cayabyab to an airball as time expired.

“That says a lot for the veterans that they held ang mga bata together, especially nung humahabol kami sa NU,” a jubilant UST head coach Haydee Ong said after the game. “It all boiled down on team effort.

“I shoot that shot everyday in practice,” Villacin said, referring to the game-winner. “It reminds me of the day I came to the Philippines and I promised to win the UAAP and it became a reality.”

The dynasty-ending victory was the first by the Growling Tigresses since Season 69, when the Marichu Bacarro-led team nipped Far Eastern University also in three games.

Finals Most Valuable Player Ferrer led the Tigresses with 19 points and 14 boards while Pastrana and Villacin combined for 28 points.

The Lady Bulldogs, on the other hand, missed a chance of having the longest consecutive championship reign in UAAP basketball by beating the Jaworski-led University of the East’s seven-peat in the ‘60s.

“It’s because of NU that the other teams in the UAAP are raising the bar, because they are the seven-peat champions. Thank you NU for bringing out the best in us,” Ong commented.

They were led by Cayabyab, who fired 18 points while power forward Angelica Surada added nine points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.

Gilas star Clarin, who averaged 18 points in the first two games of the Finals, afforded only two free throws, missing all of her 11 shots from the field.

We’re just glad that we were the barometer of excellence and success in women’s basketball in the country, not only in the UAAP but also internationally. It’s a statement of how this organization was made. We feel proud of that,” NU head coach Aris Dimaunahan said on his part.

The scores:

UST 71 – Ferrer 19, Pastrana 16, Vilasin 12, Tacatac 9, Santos 4, Dionisio 4, Bron 4, Ambos 3, Maglupay 0, Soriano 0, Amaton 0, Serrano 0.

NU 69 – Cayabyab 18, Fabruada 13, Pingol 11, Surada 9, Berberabe 9, Canuto 5, Clarin 2, Konateh 2, Betanio 0, Solis 0, Bartolo 0.

Quarter scored: 19-19, 32-44, 47-61, 71, 69

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