NU Lady Bulldogs hit streak milestone with ease, set standard for program greatness
No. 100 came like a breeze for the Lady Bulldogs.
Now, National University (NU) plans to be a hurricane and blow away the the rest of the opposition in the UAAP women’s basketball competition.
“The main goal is to win it all this season,” NU coach Aris Dimaunahan said, the drama and gravitas of his statement making up for the anticlimactic way his bar-raising squad notched a milestone that looks untouchable at the moment.
NU whipped University of the Philippines, 79-44, for its 100th straight victory in the UAAP, a streak that began nine years ago and continued until Wednesday at University of Santo Tomas’ Quadricentennial Pavilion.
The Lady Bulldogs stormed out of the gates, seizing a 31-6 lead, and were never threatened the rest of the way.
And so Dimaunahan took it upon himself to put a new challenge in front of the team.
“[We want] to improve daily so we could get to that final destination,” he said.
That is fair warning to the rest of the field. And even scarier, the Lady Bulldogs don’t plan on buckling under the weight of their goal.
“Pressure? There’s always pressure,” the young mentor said. “We know it’s only going to get tougher as we move closer to the end [of the tournament]. It’s not going to be easy, but then again if we stay together … we could better achieve our goal.”
Pressure and heartache
Besides, NU’s winning streak was built on pressure and heartache. The last time the Lady Bulldogs lost, they walked off the court with heads bowed after a deciding Game 3 finals defeat to La Salle on Oct. 5, 2013.
The season after that, the Lady Bulldogs opened with a victory on July 12, 2014, and haven’t lost since—with the weight of expectations growing heavier as the streak grew longer.
To put the accomplishment in context, the next longest basketball win streak belongs to the University of Manila, which won 86 straight games in the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities.
Ateneo’s mighty men’s team at one point won 39 straight under coach Tab Baldwin while over in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, San Beda once racked up 26 straight victories.
In the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the Crispa Redmanizers own the record with 21 straight wins.
“Something like this is super monumental, because you think about when the streak started and how different basketball was then,” said veteran Camille Clarin. “[But] some of us feel it’s a different entity in itself because some of us are only 16-0, 20-0. I feel it’s not [just] for us, but everyone for us—all the coaches, all the players that we’ve witnessed, we played with—this is for them.”
Dimaunahan understands the sentiment having chipped in just four of those wins to the streak. He took over from Pat Aquino, who relinquished the reins to the squad to focus on the women’s program of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
“Coach Pat Aquino, the legendary coach Pat Aquino … this win is for him. He’s the one who started the winning culture of this basketball team,” the young coach said. “[And] the players who came before us: Afril Bernardino, Jack Animam and Risa Paig. Trixie Antiquiera, Andrea Tongco, Monique del Carmen, Kaye Pingol, Gemma Miranda, Tin Abriam, Janet Sison, the list goes on. Rhena Itesi.”
“Those guys started all of this and we are honoring them by playing hard every day, practicing well every day,” Dimaunahan said. “We hope to continue what they started.”
The current Lady Bulldogs have the likes of Mikka Cacho, who led NU on Wednesday with 15 points, Clarin, Annick Ticky, Marylene Solis, Princess Fabruada to add to the streak.
“Winning and dedication,” Clarin said. “Everyone of us is willing and resilient.”
“We’re trained to eat pressure,” said Cacho. “Every game, every day.”