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Young Louna Ozar shows grit beyond her years


University of the Philippines is just one win away from entering the finals of the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The Fighting Maroons defeated the UST Growling Tigresses 88-80 in overtime Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena despite being down by as much as 20 points at one point during the game.

It took a herculean effort for UP to pull off this victory and it all boiled down to the Fighting Maroons’ determination to limit the damage caused by the Growling Tigresses.

But it was young freshman Louna Ozar who took charge when the going got tough in extra time.UAAP86-WBB-UST-vs-UP-LOUNA-OZAR-FAVOUR-ONOH-6604 Young Louna Ozar shows grit beyond her years Basketball News UAAP UP  - philippine sports news

“We didn’t panic because we knew we could get back. It started from our defense,” said the 19-year-old Filipino-French rookie, who led the Fighting Maroons with 25 points.

“We showed resilience and grit kanina. It’s no joke to come back from a 20-point deficit against a very very experienced team and a very very well-coached team like UST. We’re just happy that we stuck together,” added Fighting Maroons head coach Paul Ramos.

“I think we started with defense pa rin. We started with defense then we gained momentum, and then finally in the third quarter, we were able to connect in the outside then it started (the run). It all started with their tenacity in defense. I’m really just proud because the defense is all about attitude and it showcased the true attitude of these ladies.”

The fact that UP is in this position this season after not making the Final Four for 15 years is an achievement already. The Fighting Maroons’ season could have ended today but they earned the right to fight another day.

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This UP squad dug deep to win and what made it see things through was the players’ determination to not let each other down.UAAP86-WBB-UST-vs-UP-HC-PAUL-RAMOS-6515 Young Louna Ozar shows grit beyond her years Basketball News UAAP UP  - philippine sports news

“It’s all about the support of the team. Everybody shared (the burden with) each other and this energy (held the team),” said the 5-foot-8 winger Ozar.

Season 71 was the last time the Fighting Maroons competed in the finals. Fifteen years is a long time in college basketball and some droughts simply have to end at some point.

The Fighting Maroons have a golden opportunity to return to the big dance this Saturday at the expense of the Growling Tigresses. It will be a tough challenge for the third-seed squad but something that is not impossible for them to achieve.

“It’s gonna be a daunting task but it is very much possible because I know UP, as a community and as a team, has been in this kind of situation,” said Ramos.

“We’re just trying to emulate those things, (think on) what facets of our game we can improve on so that we can put ourselves again in a better position to win that ballgame.”

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces


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