MANILA, Philippines – National University cruised to the championship round after disposing of Ateneo, while University of Santo Tomas forced a winner-take-all for the last title berth after tripping La Salle in the UAAP Season 85 women’s basketball tournament.
The NU Lady Bulldogs advanced to their eighth straight finals after blasting Ateneo, 83-64, in the Final Four on Wednesday, November 30, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Camille Clarin knocked in 5 triples on her way to 19 points with 3 rebounds and 3 assists, while Mikka Cacho got 15 points, 13 in the first half, to power the Lady Bulldogs.
UST, meanwhile, looks to overcome La Salle’s twice-to-beat advantage after hacking out a 68-57 wire-to-wire victory in the other semifinal duel.
Eka Soriano did it all for the Growling Tigresses with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
The do-or-die match will be on Sunday, December 4, at the Mall of Asia Arena, for the right to face six-time defending champion NU in the best-of-three finals.
Clarin, Aloha Betanio, Tin Cayabyab, Annick Edimo Tiky, and Ann Pingol connived for the Lady Bulldogs in a crucial stretch, restoring a commanding 21-point NU lead, 71-50, with 6:54 left after the Blue Eagles threatened within six, 54-48.
“I have to give credit to our ladies for putting in the work. Even if Ateneo kept scoring at some point, they didn’t let go and they just kept on fighting and stayed together,” said NU coach Aris Dimaunahan in a mix of English and Filipino.
Edimo Tiky chipped in 10 points and 6 rebounds, while Gypsy Canuto got 8 points and 10 assists.
Rookie Kacey dela Rosa (22 points, 18 rebounds, and 7 blocks) and Jhazmin Joson (13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals) had a huge first half for the Blue Eagles.
But the two Ateneo stars were limited in the next half, with Dela Rosa getting just 4 points and 4 rebounds, and Joson netting only 3 points and 3 boards.
Ateneo finished the tournament in fourth place.
La Salle seniors Jho Arciga and Ameng Torres came alive and pushed the Lady Archers within 8 points to turn a 37-53 deficit to just a 47-55 affair with 5:06 left in the match.
However, UST’s Tacky Tacatac, Brigette Santos, and Joylyn Pangilinan had answers in them to keep their team afloat and force the do-or-die.
“We pulled through this knockout game. We have to work harder now that La Salle is going back for the last time to be in the finals,” said UST coach Haydee Ong.
Tacatac added 17 points and 3 steals, while Pangilinan chimed in 11 points and 4 rebounds in the win.
Leading the way for La Salle was Torres with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals, while Fina Niantcho Tchuido got 10 points and 13 rebounds.
“I told the girls the job is not yet over until we beat La Salle twice,” said Ong.
NU 83 – Clarin 19, Cacho 15, Edimo Tiky 10, Canuto 8, Cayabyab 8, Pingol 7, Bartolo 7, Fabruada 6, Betanio 3, Surada 0.
Ateneo 64 – Dela Rosa 22, Joson 13, Calago 10, Makanjuola 7, Villacruz 6, Miranda 2, Eufemiano 2, Angala 2, Nieves 0, Fetalvero 0, Perez 0.
Quarters: 27-20, 52-39, 62-50, 83-64.
UST 68 – Soriano 23, Tacatac 17, Pangilinan 11, Dionisio 7, Santos 3, Villasin 3, Serrano 3, Bron 1, Ambos 0, Araza 0.
La Salle 57 – Torres 16, Niantcho Tchuido 10, Sario 10, Binaohan 7, De La Paz 4, Arciga 4, Jimenez 2, Ahmed 2, Dalisay 2, Espinas 0.
Quarters: 14-12, 38-23, 53-37, 68-57.