The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigresses needed a source of inspiration during the tail-end of the elimination round of the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Basketball Tournament. Once in the upper echelon of the league with a 6-3 record, the Growling Tigresses skidded to three losses in four games heading into the final match of the season.
After eking out a 68-65 victory over the DLSU Lady Archers to live to fight another day, the Growling Tigresses received pleasant news – Grace Irebu was set to be named as the regular season Most Valuable Player with accumulated statistical points of 80.57.
And it was the ray of sunshine that the Growling Tigresses needed.
“When I announced it nung Monday [na she was the MVP], she cried. She’s very happy. Also Tantoy [Ferrer] and Sai [Larosa],” shared Tigresses head coach Haydee Ong. Ferrer was set to be named as Rookie of the Year, while Larosa made it to the Mythical Team.
“So I guess the girls were extra motivated because of it, and sana matuloy into the next game.”
Ong’s wish came true.
In their playoff game against La Salle, the 6-foot-4 Congolese student-cager dropped 29 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks to power UST to a 79-67 victory. Then in their knockout quarterfinals game against the Adamson Lady Falcons, Irebu came up big once again; she finished with 28 points, 20 rebounds, and three blocks to tow the Growling Tigresses to a 78-69 triumph.
“Yeah, so I have so many emotions, but… I’m so happy,” shared the 20-year-old.
“Tears of joy,” quipped Ong.
But the fight is not yet over. On Wednesday, Irebu and the Tigresses will figure in their fourth straight do-or-die game. And she refuses to be content with just a bronze medal and an MVP tiara.
“I’m so happy, to participate in the Final Four with my team. I just have to work again, I have again a game on Wednesday, against FEU,” the 6-foot-4 center expressed.
“I have to stay focused, and to work, work hard, yeah.”
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