Two more wins.
Only two more wins separate the National University Lady Bulldogs from a third straight UAAP Women’s Basketball crown.
The Lady Bulldogs secured an outright finals ticket this Season 79 when they swept the elimination round. In addition, NU have won 46 consecutive games, in a streak that had started last Season 77.
NU have been led by their big three of Afril Bernardino, Gemma Miranda, and Jack Daniel Aminam throughout the season. Their strong performances have awarded them spots in the Season 79 Mythical Five, with Bernardino also garnering her second straight Most Valuable Player honor.
Bernardino has raised eyebrows from basketball observers whenever she plays, and it’s no surprise that some want her to have the chance to try her luck in overseas leagues, specifically the Women’s National Basketball Association.
“Hindi pa naman sure. Inaayos ng manager namin na matuloy yun. Sana,” commented the fifth-year student. “Wala akong idea pero ina-advise sa akin is ayusin ko yung footwork ko. Adjust ako sa pagiging point guard, ayusin ko shooting ko.”
But one thing is certain for Bernardino after Season 79.
“After nito mag-study muna, makatapos, maka-graduate. Yan ang next goal ko, maka-graduate ako,” the Financial Management student vowed.
Amidst all the talk about her future plans, Bernardino retains concentration for the task at hand. “Sabi rin ng mga coaches namin na huwag kami maging masyadong kampante sa magiging kalaban namin. Kailangan focused pa rin kami,” shared the Cainta-native.
But one of her wishes has already come true.
Wednesday afternoon, the De La Salle University Lady Archers lambasted the University of the East Lady Warriors to advance to the Finals. And they are the opponents that Bernardino and the Lady Bulldogs have wanted since Day One.
“La Salle yung iniisip namin maging Finals na kalaban namin. Meron kaming goal sa kanila na ito yung pinaaantay naming championship, yung bumawi kami sa La Salle,” she admitted.
The MVP could have had four championship rings by now if not for the Lady Archers squad led by then-coach Tyrone Bautista, who clinched the championship after winning the first and third games in the finals series.
That result still stings for Bernardino. She narrated, “Nung Season 76, sila yung nag-champion. Two years on, nung streak na nag back-to-back kami, hindi sila nakapasok sa finals eh. Lagi silang natatalo.”
And she admitted that vengeance is on her mind entering the best-of-three series.
“Parang ganun. Lahat kami, lahat kami para mabawi rin namin yung pagkatalo namin noon para sa seniors namin, para sa kanila yun pati sa mga coaches namin.”
With the championship within reach, expect Bernardino to rally the rest of the Lady Bulldogs in the finals, for what would be a fitting finale in a stellar collegiate career.
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