The stage is set for an epic finish.
The battle for the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball crown between the NU Lady Bulldogs and the UST Growling Tigresses has been absolutely phenomenal.
It actually took clutch play after clutch play from both sides to come up with one win apiece in their best-of-three finals series. Expecting anything less from the decider would be foolish.
Game 1 was taken by the Growling Tigresses, 76-72, behind the heroics of Kent Pastrana, Reynalyn Ferrer, and Brigette Santos. Collectively, it was the unrelenting end-to-end pressure applied on the defending champions that propelled UST to victory.
In Game 2, the Lady Bulldogs looked more poised down the stretch, best shown in Gypsy Canuto’s unbelievable swipe at Pastrana in the dying stretch, which preserved NU’s 72-70 win and the chance for an eighth straight title.
“I think we just had to remind ourselves, why we do it, why we love the sport so much, and what’s really at stake,” said star guard Camille Clarin after the game, wherein she tallied 18 points and eight assists.
“Once we figured out why we’re doing it, that’s what gave us the heart to go out and execute ‘til the last minute,” she elaborated.
Count on the Lady Bulldogs to bring the same fire and play like the reigning queens that they are in Game 3.
Likewise, the Growling Tigresses know who they are and what they need to do to topple NU’s long-standing dynasty. Bet on coach Haydee Ong to keep instilling confidence in her wards, just as she did when Pastrana fell into Canuto’s trap and missed a three-pointer that could’ve won them the championship in Game 2.
“Kent is so brave, she made two decisions that didn’t go in. You don’t have to blame Kent for that, that’s her decision. It’s make-or-break, so wala, walang mali sa ginawa ni Kent,” said Ong, as quoted by UST's official student publication, The Varsitarian.
Either way, history will be rewritten in Game 3 this Wednesday as NU tries to extend its dynastic run, while UST looks to end a 17-year title drought.
Catch the game live at 12 noon on the UAAP Varsity Channel and the Pilipinas Live app.