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NU completes women's basketball elimination sweep, enters Finals outright anew

By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--National University overcame its biggest challenge of the UAAP Season 78 women’s basketball tournament, hacking out a 81-74 win over a gritty De La Salle side to gain an outright Finals slot on Sunday at the Blue Eagle Gym.

In another dominant elimination round showing, the Lady Bulldogs extended their unbeaten run to 30 games dating back to last season and will hold the thrice-to-beat edge in the title round.

Despite the accomplishment, NU coach Pat Aquino, knows that there is still unfinished business to make another run at the crown.

“We have that hunger to do it again and hopefully we can win the championship,” said Aquino.

The Lady Archers kept the game close in the payoff period but Shelley Gupilan and Andrea Tongco delivered the key baskets down the stretch to help the Lady Bulldogs preserve the victory.

“La Salle played really hard, they really wanted to win. But I also give credit to the girls played hard, even without our key player Afril Bernardino” said Aquino.

Bernardino, the reigning MVP, was benched for disciplinary reasons, but NU drew big games from Risa Paig, who paced the defending champions with 18 points.

Kristine Abriam added 14 points and 10 rebounds while Gupilan and Tongco tossed in 12 points apiece for the Lady Bulldogs.

The Lady Archers, who were led by Ara Abaca’s 18 points and 14 rebounds, finished second with a 12-2 record and will have the twice-to-beat bonus in the step-ladder semifinals.

University of the East, behind Ruthlaine Tacula’s 20 markers, nailed the third semis berth with a 68-53 dismantling of University of Santo Tomas.

The Lady Warriors, the league’s surprise package, ended the elims with a 7-7 card for their first-ever semifinals appearance since the Final Four was instituted in 1994.

Claire Aseron had 11 points while Danica Jose and Jolina Go added 10 markers apiece as Ateneo routed Adamson, 55-41, to force a playoff for the last semifinals berth.

The Lady Eagles tied the Tigresses in fourth place at 6-8 and the two teams will face off on Wednesday to determine the last semis qualifier. The winner will take on UE in the first step-ladder semifinals match.

Claire Castro had 16 points as Far Eastern University nipped University of the Philippines, 54-52, in a no-bearing match.

The Lady Falcons and the Lady Maroons wound up in joint sixth at 4-10 while the Lady Tamaraws, last season’s runner-up, ended up in last place with three wins against 11 losses.

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