MANILA, Philippines — Defending champion National University jumpstarted its quest for an eighth consecutive title with a 77-57 win over Ateneo in the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball tournament on Sunday at the University of Santo Tomas Quadricentennial Pavilion.
Ann Pingol led the balanced attack of the Lady Bulldogs with 11 points, while Camille Clarin also scored 11 on top of seven rebounds and four assists as their defense didn’t allow the Blue Eagles to get a taste of lead in the game, forcing 26 turnovers, seven from graduating guard Jhazmin Joson.
Ateneo star forward Kacey Dela Rosa was also limited to just seven points on five field goal attempts and fouled out with still 2:21 left in the third quarter. She also had eight rebounds.
“It’s always tough to play a combo of Dela Rosa and Joson knowing for a fact that they gained a lot of experience playing for the national team,” said NU coach Aris Dimaunahan. “Our main focus today was for those two guys and some of their supporting cast to be limited. I thought we did a great job as a team defending them and eventually getting the win.”
With last season’s mythical members Joson and Dela Rosa struggling, Sarah Makanjuola stepped up for Ateneo with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Junize Calago had 11 points and seven rebounds after Joson was limited to five points and three assists.
Meanwhile, UST, the consensus team to beat this year, averted a sluggish start before taking down University of the East, 63-46, in its home court.
Kent Pastrana, the Season 82 Rookie of the Year, led the Growling Tigresses with 20 points and 10 rebounds in her first UAAP outing since 2019. UST went on a blistering 26-6 run in the fourth quarter after trailing by three entering the final frame. Tantoy Ferrer scored nine points in the quarter.
“I told the girls that ginagaya ata nila si Coco Martin – nagpapabugbog muna tapos bago maglalaro nang maayos,” said UST coach Haydee Ong. “I think it’s good ngayon nangyari ‘to sa amin. We have so many learnings after this. We’ll bounce back and play better the next game.”
(It told the girls that they were trying to be like Coco Martin–they needed to get beat up first before playing the right way. I think it’s good that it happened to us this early in the season.)
Ferrer finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Rachelle Ambos added 10 markers to beat UE, which leaned on Dianne Pegrosa’s 13 points and nine rebounds.
Over at Mall of Asia Arena, Josee Kaputu made a rousing debut to lift Far Eastern University past runner-up La Salle, 75-68.
The Congolese center was nearly unstoppable with 27 points including the crucial shots down the stretch on top of nine rebounds and three assists to kick off the Lady Tamaraws campaign on a winning note after a 2-12 finish last season.
Queenie Aquino also stepped up for FEU with 13 points, while Jamerin Delos Santos contributed 10 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
La Salle, the runner-up last season, started off on the wrong foot despite Tricia Mendoza’s stellar game of 23 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.
Despite missing prized rookie Louna Ouzar, who is in Hangzhou, China for Gilas Pilipinas Women in the Asian Games, University of the Philippines annihilated Adamson, 92-61.
Justine Domingo led the Fighting Maroons with 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Marielle Vingno and Christie Bariquit contributed 13 points each, Shela Godez and Rhea Sanchez had 12 and 10 points, respectively, and Nigerian student-athlete Favour Onoh added eight points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.
Adamson banked on Victoria Adeshina, who posted 14 points and 19 rebounds. Elaine Etang and Cris Padilla chipped in 13 and 10 points, respectively.
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