UST ends NU dynasty

IN EPIC FASHION, University of Santo Tomas toppled the great dynasty of National University by carving out a pulsating 71-69 comeback triumph in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball finals. — FACEBOOK.COM/WEARETHEUAAP

THERE’S a new ruler in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) basketball queendom.

In epic fashion, University of Santo Tomas (UST) toppled the great dynasty of National University (NU) by carving out a pulsating 71-69 comeback triumph in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball finals on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Growling Tigresses erased a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter highlighted by the title-clinching 13-2 closeout in the last four minutes as they dethroned the Lady Bulldogs after their unprecedented, unchallenged seven-year reign.

Finals MVP Tantoy Ferrer went berserk in the fourth quarter to ignite the comeback, Kent Pastrana scored the game-tying basket while Nikki Villasin sprinted to a wide-open game-winner in transition as UST in the process brought back the crown in España after 17 long years. “I’m really lost for words. I’m happy for the girls. We’re down big but I said to them, don’t give up. Stick together,” mentor Haydee Ong, in tears, said. “NU gave us a lot of chances to recover. We made good stops in the last minute and that spelled the difference.”

UST doing it was an understatement with Mmess. Ferrer, Villasin and Pastrana essaying a comeback for the ages to unseat a superpower that stood impregnable and unshakeable for almost a decade.

Ms. Ferrer hauled down a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, including nine points in the payoff period, Ms. Pastrana, who missed the game-winning triple in Game 2, added 16 points while Villasin saved her best for last in draining the championship winner to finish with 12 points.

In turn, Santo Tomas ascended to the UAAP women’s kingdom for the first time since 2006 for now a league’s best 12th title, breaking a tie with Far Eastern University  (11).

But it wasn’t a walk in the park.

In this game alone, the Growling Tigresses endured a long, winding climb to the top to hand Ms. Ferrer, who registered 15.7 points and 11.3 rebounds in the finals, and Ms. Villasin a fitting swan song in España.

Staring at 46-61 deficit in the last minute of the third period, the Growling Tigresses flaunted sharper claws on the defensive end by limiting the Lady Bulldogs to only eight points the rest of the way.

Santo Tomas, which first snapped a 20-game, 11-year losing skid against NU with a 76-72 win in Game 1, then banked on the heroics of Ms. Pastrana, who tied the game with a bank shot in the last 24 seconds, and Ms. Villasin’s fastbreak lay-up in the last nine seconds as the former champion fired blanks.

“This will go down in history for UST. The last time we had our championship was in 2006. I think that says a lot to the level of NU. They raised the bar for women’s basketball for seven consecutive years. It’s one hell of a program,” added Ms. Ong.

“And beating them today and never giving up, that also says a lot for these special ladies. They deserve to be UAAP champions.”

Kristine Cayabyab, who led the Lady Bulldogs with 18 points, had one last chance albeit with no timeouts left to preserve their dynasty with a desperation trey down the stretch but to no avail — paving the way for the new UAAP basketball queens.

Princess Fabruada (13) and Karl Pingol (11) chipped in help as ace player Camille Clarin struggle for only two points on 0-of-11 clip in the end of NU’s era. — John Bryan Ulanday

The Scores:

(women’s finals)

UST (71) – Ferrer 19, Pastrana 16, Villasin 12, Tacatac 9, Bron 4, Dionisio 4, Santos 4, Ambos 3, Maglupay 0, Soriano 0, Amatong 0, Serrano 0.

NU (69) – Cayabyab 18, Fabruada 13, Pingol 11, Berberabe 9, Surada 9, Canuto 5, Clarin 2, Konateh 2, Bartolo 0, Betanio 0, Solis 0.

Quarterscores: 19-19, 32-44, 47-61, 71-69.


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