NATIONAL University moved on the cusp of completing another perfect season with a 71-59 romp of Far Eastern University yesterday in the UAAP women’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Tamaraws opened the game by scoring the first four points, but when the Lady Bulldogs got their rhythm going, the Bustillos-based cagebelles were back to their usual dominant self.
“We were just glad and happy na we won the game. Marami pa kaming kailangang adjustments. Siguro, medyo naging rusty kami, at first. We were being away from competitive basketball for almost two weeks. Well I’m just happy that Jack (Danielle Animam) came out and played,” said NU coach Pat Aquino.
Animam, the reigning MVP, produced a solid all-around game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, five assists and two blocks to power the Lady Bulldogs in winning the championship opener.
Extending its undefeated streak to 79 games, NU shoots for its fifth consecutive crown in Game 2 slated at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Ang sabi ko sa mga girls, FEU cannot be here in the Finals without proving themselves to be here. I know for a fact that coach Bert (Flores) and the girls, talagang lumalaban sila. We really have to be ready for them,” said Aquino.
Congo’s Rhena Itesi, the Lady Bulldogs’ other frontliner, chipped in 13 points and six boards while reserve Jeanne Camelo had 11 points and four rebounds.
Clare Castro, holding on her own against her close friend Animam and Itesi, finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks to lead the Lady Tamaraws, who are making their first title round appearance in four years.
“Clare has improved a lot. She is working hard for it. Actually ’yun ang focus namin, we should stop Clare Castro,” said Aquino. The scores:
NU (71) – Animam 19, Itesi 13, Camelo 11, Nabalan 8, Fabruada 5, Del Carmen 4, Pingol 3, Cacho 2, Cac 2, Layug 2, Goto 2, Canuto 0, Harada 0, Ceño 0, Bartolo 0.
FEU (59) – Castro 15, Taguiam 11, Bahuyan 10, Mamaril 7, Quiapo 6, Adriano 6, Antiola 4, Vidal 0, Bastatas 0, Payadon 0, Dugay 0, Rebleza 0.
Quarterscores: 22-13, 37-23, 58-38, 71-59