Lady Bulldogs on course for repeat perfect season
National University may be headed for another perfect season after claiming an outright finals berth in UAAP women’s basketball over the weekend.
“We have that hunger to do it again and hopefully, we can win the championship,” said NU coach Patrick Aquino, as his Lady Bulldogs completed a 14-game elimination sweep to jump straight to the title series with a thrice-to-beat bonus.
The incentive is equivalent to a 1-0 advantage in a best-of-five series.
Even with star Afril Bernardino sidelined in NU’s last outing due to disciplinary reasons, the Lady Bulldogs stretched their incredible winning streak to 30 games since last season.
Bernardino, who is set to receive her second straight MVP award, amassed a league-best 70.61 statistical points after averaging 14.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.1 blocks.
But NU also showcased depth as the Lady Bulldogs wrapped up their elimination run with an 81-74 drubbing of La Salle behind the solid plays of Risa Paig, Kristine Abriam, Shelley Gupilan and Andrea Tongco last Sunday at Blue Eagle gym in Loyola Heights.
“La Salle played really hard, they really wanted to win,” said Aquino. “But I also give credit to our girls who played hard even without our key player.”
The Lady Archers ended the eliminations with a 12-2 record to secure the No. 2 spot and the twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals.
University of the East advanced to the Final Four for the first time with a 7-7 record, while Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas, tied at fourth at 6-8, clash for the last semifinal berth on Wednesday.
In juniors action, Aljun Melecio exploded for 42 points as De La Salle Zobel spoiled defending champion Ateneo’s opening bid, 84-71, Saturday.
Last season’s runner-up NU, though, kicked off its campaign with a 61-55 nipping of Adamson behind John Lloyd Clemente’s 18-point outing.
Far Eastern University also downed University of the Philippines, 58-52, while UST slipped past UE, 77-73.
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