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NU cagebelles keep UAAP crown

National University leaned on graduating players Gemma Miranda and Afril Bernardino in crushing La Salle, 96-72, yesterday to capture its third straight title in the UAAP women’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Miranda finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and three assists to be adjudged as the Finals Most Valuable Player while Bernardino added 18 points, six rebounds, nine assists and three steals for the Lady Bulldogs, who extended the longest active winning streak in all league competitions at 48.

NU’s victory came after trailing by 11 points at halftime before squandering a similar lead to take the series opener, 77-74, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“We turned the ball so many times in the first game and I just told them to take care of the ball,” said Lady Bulldogs coach Pat Aquino. “We made some adjustments on the press break and siguro yung defense namin naging maganda and it made our offense very easy.”

Bernardino who had a quiet 10-point outing in Game 1, saved her best for last to cap off a career that also earned her a spot on the Perlas Pilipinas national team.

The Lady Bulldogs led by a high of 40 points in the second half on their way to retaining supremacy in the women’s division.

Jack Animam had 16 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks while Ria Nabalan, whose two late triples in Game 1 propelled NU to victory, added 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Khate Castillo scored 15 points, Joahanna Arciga had 14 points while Snow Penaranda added 13 points, 11 rebounds and three assists for La Salle in settling for a runner-up finish.

NU 96 – Miranda 25, Bernardino 18, Animam 16, Nabalan 15, Camelo 9, Itesi 8, Del Carmen 3, Layug 2, Harada 0, Ceno 0.
LA SALLE 72 – Castillo 15, Arciga 14, Penaranda 13, Claro 9, Nunez 7, Vergara 7, Gonzales 4, Dagdagan 3, Revillosa 0, Vela 0, Javier 0.

Quarters: 26-15; 52-38; 78-47; 96-72.