By: Jerome Lagunzad
Three-time defending champion National University continues to play on a different level in the UAAP Season 80 women’s basketball tournament.
The Lady Bulldogs, as expected, completed a sweep of the first round courtesy of a 92-38 victory over the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons last Wednesday at the Blue Eagle gym in Quezon City, extending their impressive run to 55 matches.
As fluid as his wards have been performing, NU coach Patrick Aquino admitted the latest feather on the cap of the Lady Bulldogs still surprised him a bit following the graduation of one-time league MVP Afril Bernardino and Gemma Miranda.
Their departure, however, opened up more opportunities for the other players to thrive on bigger roles, something that pleased Aquino no end.
“The good thing this year is that everybody is stepping up,” he said in an SMS message to Bulletin-Tempo yesterday, mainly referring to the likes of Cameroon big man Rhena Itesi, homegrown talents Jack Animam, Ria Nabalan and Trixie Antiquera.
“Rhena and Jack, they have been controlling the boards and dominating the painted area. Ria has been all around and Trixie is also hitting her three’s. I just hope the others will rise to the occasion in every game.”
True to Aquino’s words, Antiquera knocked down eight triples on her way to a game-high 24 points while Nabalan (17 points and 10 rebounds), 6-foot-4 Itesi (12 and 11) and Animam (11 and 12) in NU’s complete domination of hapless UP.
Still, Aquino reminded the Lady Bulldogs that their job is far from done. “I’m just happy that we won all our games so far but our goal is not yet finished.”