NATIONAL University (NU) owned a page in the history books, posting its record-tying seventh straight championship with a statement sweep of rival De La Salle (DLSU) in the UAAP Season 85 women’s basketball finals on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bulldogs mauled the Lady Archers in Game 2, 76-64, to wipe the floor with the Lady Archers after a 93-61 Game 1 triumph as they atoned for absorbing a lone scar in the eliminations against the same squad.
Kristine Cayabyab spearheaded the relentless attack with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals as the Lady Bulldogs completed a seven-peat to tie the great UE Red Warriors squad in the 60s-70s under the watch of legendary mentor Baby Dalupan and led by icon Robert Jaworski Sr. for the longest title streak in UAAP basketball history.
Ms. Cayabyab registered 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.5 steals to be hailed the Finals’ Most Valuable Player for NU, which swung back at La Salle with a bang after a historic 61-57 overtime loss in the second round.
That defeat snapped NU’s 108-game win streak that stood almost a decade, which somehow served as a “blessing in disguise” and transformed the Bulldogs to an even ferocious pack with extra thirst and hunger for blood.
“We took that loss as a blessing in disguise. We’re thankful that it happened in the eliminations because it gave us time to really look ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves that we can lose any game,” said coach Aris Dimaunahan, a champion coach in his first season after taking over from Pat Aquino.
“It brought us to the ground but that loss gave us a chance to become a stronger team. That gave us characters to bounce back. But still, since our first game, our goal was to win the championship. And we did.”
NU, riding on a 32-point win in Game 1, led only by 8-7 in this clincher but unleashed a quick 19-4 barrage to take command heading home to solidify stature as the undisputed queen of Philippine collegiate basketball scene.
Charmine Torres led the way with 29 points, seven rebounds and five steals as the Lady Archers fell short from an elusive bid of trampling the NU wall. De La Salle was the last champion in 2013 before NU’s dynasty.
Meanwhile, Santo Tomas guard Eka Soriano claimed the UAAP Season 85 MVP award behind averages of 14.36 points, 6.29 rebounds, 7.14 assists and 3.71 steals as Ateneo’s Kacey Dela Rosa won Rookie of the Year honor.
Joining them in the Mythical Team were Adamson’s Victoria Adeshina, Ateneo’s Jhazmin Joson and Santo Tomas’ Tacky Tacatac. — John Bryan Ulanday
NU 76 — Cayabyab 18, Surada 10, Edimo Tiky 9, Clarin 8, Cacho 6, Pingol 6, Bartolo 5, Canuto 4, Fabruada 4, Villareal 4, Betanio 2, Solis 0, Barroquillo 0, Dimaunahan 0, Ico 0.
De La Salle 64 — Torres 29, Niantcho Tchuido 13, Arciga 8, Sario 7, Binaohan 5, De La Paz 2, Jimenez 2, Ahmed 2.
Quarterscores: 27-11, 42-27, 61-40, 76-64.