For the second time this season, the National University Lady Bulldogs flirted with disaster. But once again, the experience of the three-time defending champions showed, as they scraped past the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles, 60-49, Saturday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
And the Lady Bulldogs needed to see their usually-calm mentor Patrick Aquino get ejected to fire up them up late in the game.
“Sabi ko nga kanina, they have to believe in themselves. The game is a good way to gain experience, it was physical. Nakita rin nila how to finish games,” reflected NU head coach Patrick Aquino.
After seeing their early 19-3 lead vanish to just a five-point lead, 49-44, with 3:38 left, Aquino was slapped with two technical fouls after continuous complaining on a non-call on Ria Nabalan.
“This is the first time I got ejected in the last three years. I’m really sorry for what happened and it’s wrong for me to do that,” expressed Aquino, “But sometimes you got to give your insight on how you see it in your perspective. Siguro, marami lang talaga yung bad calls na nakita ko and I wasn’t happy anymore.”
The Lady Eagles, who saw their ace center Tina Deacon foul out with 3:10 left, continued to push. A floater by Jollina Go sliced the lead to just two, 51-49, with 1:12 left.
But that was the last straw for Ateneo, as Rhena Itesi took over. A basket by Janet Sison sparked a 9-0 end-game run that saw Itesi score five points — including a three-point play. On the other end, the Lady Bulldogs locked down, forcing the Lady Eagles to highly-contested shots.
Itesi finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks. Nabalan and Trixie Antiquera finished with 12 and 10 points respectively.
The win lifts NU to an 11-0 record, and is their 59th straight overall. Ateneo, on the other hand, dropped to 3-8, two games behind fourth-running FEU.
Aquino will be suspended when NU take on the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons on Saturday, November 4 at 9:00am in the Blue Eagle Gym. But the national team mentor is confident in his coaching staff, headed by Aries Dimaunahan.
“My staff has already had experience in coaching. I’m confident and it’s going to be a break for me,” the youthful mentor quipped.
Jhazmin Joson tallied her career-high with 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench, while Go had 14 points as well.
Ateneo will next face the Adamson University Lady Falcons on November 4 as well at 11:00am.
NU (60) – Itesi 17, Nabalan 12, Antiquera 10, Animam 7, Del Carmen 7, Cacho 5, Sison 2, Ano-os 2, Harada 0, Camelo 0, Ceno 0.
ADMU (49) – Joson 14, Go 14, Yam 6, Deacon 6, Cancio 3, Guytingco 2, Morelos 2, Villamor 2, Newsome 0, Uy De Ong 0, Buendia 0.
QUarterscores: 19-5, 25-22, 41-37, 60-49.
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