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Ninth Consecutive Finals for NU Lady Bulldogs as They Oust Ateneo in UAAP

MANILA, Philippines — Karl Pingol caught fire in the third quarter, leading National University’s second-half surge to eliminate No. 4 Ateneo, 58-43, and book its ninth straight trip to the Finals in the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

After a scoreless first half only holding a four-point lead against Ateneo, 31-27, Pingol scored eight of her 10 points as she ignited a 7-0 run for a 42-31 advantage with 5:02 left in the third as the Lady Bulldogs never looked back and tallied the biggest lead of 19 points, 58-39, after Jil Talas’ triple at the final three-minute mark of the game.

“I’m thankful to my teammates because they encouraged me to bounce back in the second half after a scoreless first half,” said Pingol, who also had three steals in the game.”They trusted me that I could still contribute to our team.”

Camille Clarin topscored for NU with 12 points from three triples to go with four assists and three rebounds. Gypsy Canuto was also instrumental with eight points and nine rebounds, while Jainaba Konateh also had eight markers and seven rebounds.

Camille Clarin.–UAAP PHOTO

The Lady Bulldogs, who are eyeing their eighth straight championship, are entering the finals with a 12-game winning streak, facing the winner of the twice-to-beat University of Santo Tomas and No.3 University of the Philippines in a best-of-three series.

NU coach Aris Dimaunahan reminded his wards to stay focused on their ultimate goal.

“The biggest lesson we learned is not to take anybody lightly and mind our turf. We cannot just go into a certain game thinking that we’re gonna get an easy win. We have to really always work hard for it, it will not be given to us and take it away from them,” said Dimaunahan.

MVP frontrunner Kacey Dela Rosa was limited to 10 points and 11 rebounds, while graduating guard Jhaz Joson shot 2-of-12 from the field with seven points, three rebounds, and three assists but had eight turnovers in the game.

Junize Calago stepped up for the Blue Eagles with 12 points, eight rebounds, four steals, and three assists, while Sarah Makanjuola had eight points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks. Mille Gastador also played her final UAAP game.

Ateneo ended its second straight Final Four appearance but Dimaunahan was all praise for coach LA Mumar’s program.

“I thought it’s always hard to play against Kacey Dela Rosa and Jhazmin Joson because they’re considered the 1-2 punch of Ateneo that’s why our main goal every time we play them is to limit them,” said Dimauhanan.

“We also have to congratulate Ateneo women’s basketball program for bringing their team to the Final Four for two consecutive years. It’s a testament of how well they are being coached, how they are being handled by coach [LA] Mumar, coach Bacon [Austria] and the rest of the coaching staff. They did a great job the past two years, not only getting into the final four but again, for molding Kacey Dela Rosa into being a rookie of the year and probably right now, I feel Kacey will be our MVP this year. “

The scores:

NU (58) – Clarin 12, Pingol 10, Canuto 8, Konateh 8, Berberabe 4, Solis 4, Betanio 3, Cayabyab 3, Talas 3, Surada 2, Fabruada 1, Alterado 0, Alcantara 0.

Ateneo (43) – Calago 12, Dela Rosa 10, Makanjoula 8, Joson 7, Villacruz 6, Gastador 0, Angala 0, Solis 0, Nieves 0, Malaga 0, Fetalvero 0, Eufemanio 0.



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Quarterscores: 13-11, 31-27, 48-37, 58-43