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Nikki Villasin finds place at the right time for UST


Nikki Villasin reminded everyone what she is capable of by leading University of Santo Tomasl to a dominant 80-68 victory over fellow Final Four side Ateneo de Manila University at the end of the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Villasin, who stands at 5-foot-3 and is on her final playing year, finished with 20 points on 4-of-9 three-point shooting to carry the Growling Tigresses past the Blue Eagles.

Her performance was a major improvement considering she averaged 5.17 points in 12 games before this match.

“It was a good experience. It’s mostly just practicing translating (on the court). Honestly, we just work hard and do the things we do every day in practice,” said the former North Park University standout.

“We just stick to our system and what our coach wants. We just get the shots we want, we’re patient, and every shot comes from a teammate,” the 25-year-old floor general continued.

“My teammates were just looking for me, especially Eka, who is facilitating really well. When you have good leadership like that, a lot of good things happen so it’s never on my own.”

UAAP86-WBB-Angelina-Villasin-0833 Nikki Villasin finds place at the right time for UST Basketball News UAAP UST  - philippine sports newsVillasin suited up as a starter against Ateneo.

Coach Haydee Ong put her in the first five because Tacky Tacatac was out due to illness.

It ended up being an inspired choice from the former national team mentor as the Filipino-American guard pumped her career-high in the UAAP to give UST at a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.

“It’s a good feeling. It’s like hard work pays off. We train harder than any other team in the league so to see it show is very rewarding and even when things aren’t going my way, I have a good team,” said Villasin.

“The bench has really great energy and my coaches, they motivate me to bawi and just do better whenever I go back in to right my wrongs and do what I can (and) just be unselfish. It feels good.”

The Growling Tigresses, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, will next face the UP Fighting Maroons in the Final Four.

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Villasin’s explosion against Ateneo came at a good time and UST hopes that it is a sign that she is peaking at the right time.

“It’s good it’s going up. In the first round, I felt like I was struggling a little bit for sure finding my place on the team because we really have a talented team this year,” she said.

“But, definitely, towards the end is all that counts for me. As long as I can keep it going towards the Final Four.”

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