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NU nears UAAP sweep

By Jerome Lagunzad

Game Sunday (Smart-Araneta Coliseum)
11 a.m. – UE vs NU
(Game 2, Lady Bulldogs lead series 1-0)

Back in the finals after missing the trip last season due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, graduating National University gunner Trixie Antiquerra made sure she would have an offensive performance to remember yesterday.

The diminutive Antiquerra sizzled with a career-best of 30 points as the Lady Bulldogs clobbered the University of the East Lady Warriors, 89-61, yesterday to close in on the UAAP Season 80 women’s basketball title at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Antiquerra was at her best in the first half, tallying 19 big points and nearly matching UE’s entire output of 21, as NU showed no signs of slowing down after a near three-week respite.

The win, their 63rd consecutive since 2014, helped the Lady Bulldogs inch closer towards completing a fourth straight title romp. Game 2 is tentatively set on Sunday at the Big Dome.

“It was a good win,” said NU coach Pat Aquino. “Again, I’m just happy for the girls, especially for Trixie. It’s her last playing year and having that game, hindi ko naman masyado ini-expect but at least ngayon lumabas.”

Newly-minted league MVP Jack Animam muscled her way to 10 points and 17 rebounds on top of five blocks while fellow Mythical Team member Ria Nabalan added 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and as many steals for the Lady Bulldogs.

However, it was Antiquerra who set the tone behind her red-hot shooting, primarily in the second period where she rifled in 14 points – the same production of the entire Lady Warriors unit – that opened the floodgates for another wire-to-wire victory.

“Masaya ako kasi lahat ng extra shooting ko after ng practice, nagbu-bunga,” said a visibly pleased Bacolod City native. “Last season ko na rin ito kaya nag-promise ako sa team ko na all out na ‘to. Ibibigay ko na ang lahat ng kaya kong ibigay.”

The Lady Warriors simply had no answer against Antiquerra’s impressive shooting display, especially from beyond the arc where the veteran Lady Bulldogs guard knocked down seven of her 11 attempts.

Graduating Love Sto. Domingo, who also made it to this year’s Mythical Team, tallied 17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in another all-around performance but she still could not help UE turn things around after a lackluster start.

NU 89 – Antiquera 30, Nabalan 16, Animam 10, Camelo 8, Ano-os 8, Itesi 7, Harada 5, Cacho 3, Dela Carmen 2, Sison 0, Ceno 0, Layug 0, Lopez 0, Tanesa 0.

UE 61 – Sto. Domingo 17, Francisco 12, Cortizano 11, Tacula 9, Chan 6, Gayacao 4, Ramos 2, Antonio 0.

Quarters: 22-7, 43-21, 63-34, 89-61.