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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Growling Tigresses tear down mighty Lady Bulldogs in Game 1

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National University’s seven-season stranglehold of the UAAP Women’s Basketball is now under serious threat.

No thanks to a fighting University of Santo Tomas team that showcased its composure in the fourth, taking down the eight-peat-seeking Lady Bulldogs, 76-72, to clinch Game 1 of the best-of-three UAAP Season 86 Finals on Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

UST will go for the championship — its first since Season 69 (2006) under then coach Peque Tan—on Sunday, 12 p.m., at the SMART Araneta Coliseum while NU, which never fell behind in the Finals during its reign, will shoot for an equalizer.

“So happy of course that finally, mayroon kaming panalo against NU which is most important because this is the championship series. Thank you sa mga girls they really worked hard for this until the last second na pwedeng humabol yung NU they keep their composure,” said Growling Tigresses’ head coach Haydee Ong as UST broke a 20-game skid against the defending champions.

The last time the Tigresses won over the Lady Bulldogs was on August 31, 2012—a 74-73 overtime conquest in the second round.

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Nikki Villasin, Tacky Tacatac, Kent Pastrana, and Brigette Santos teamed up for the Growling Tigresses to turn a close 62-60 lead to a 73-65 eight-point margin with 3:30 left.

However, Aloha Betanio drained a three-pointer while Stef Berberabe drilled three of four free throws to pull the Lady Bulldogs within two with 1:10 remaining.

Rocel Dionisio then responded for UST with an open short stab inside off a beautiful dish from Pastrana with 54.6 seconds to go, 75-71.

After a pair of misses from both sides, Angel Surada was fouled for NU but she split her freebies, 72-75 with 19.9 seconds left.

Then a wild sequence of events ensued.

The Lady Bulldogs stole the Growling Tigresses’ inbound but Santos got it back for UST with 6.5 ticks.

Fouled again to hit penalty, Santos split her free throws for the final scoreline as Tin Cayabyab missed her shot the next play, snapping NU’s 12-game winning streak.

“Binigay ko lang talaga yung best ko na maglaro ako para kay Coach Haydee and sa team. Talagang ibigay mo lang lahat, lalabas naman yung result,” said the graduating Tantoy Ferrer, who missed last season’s 5-on-5 tournament due to an ACL injury.

The graduating forward out of Calapandayan, Zambales ended up with 13 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

Pastrana top-scored for UST with 15 points with six rebounds and four steals, while Tacatac had 14 points with 11 coming off the final frame.

Santos also came through with 12 points, seven steals, six rebounds, and four assists, while Villasin added 10 points.

Clarin paced NU with 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds, while Ann Pingol got 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Cayabyab was held to just five points on 1-of-6 shooting while Angel Surada was limited to just five points on a 2-of-8 clip but still seized 11 rebounds.

The Scores:

UST 76 – Pastrana 15, Tacatac 14, Ferrer 13, Santos 10, Villasin 10, Dionisio 6, Maglupay 4, Amatong 2, Serrano 0, Soriano 0, Ambos 0, Bron 0.

NU 72 – Clarin 18, Pingol 11, Berberabe 8, Konateh 8, Betanio 7, Cayabyab 5, Surada 5, Fabruada 4, Canuto 3, Solis 3.

Quarterscores: 20-12, 36-31, 54-51, 76-72

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