THE UST Golden Tigresses ended their 17-year title drought by stopping the Lady Bulldogs’ eight-peat bid, roaring back from a 14-point deficit to win the UAAP Season 86 championship, 71-69, on Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Close to two decades of waiting, the University of Santo Tomas has reclaimed the UAAP Women’s Basketball title, while National University has settled for silver for the first time in eight seasons.
“Im really lost for words. Im really so happy for the girls, sila may gawa nito,” Growling Tigresses head coach Haydee Ong stated.
“We were down big, 15 points ,sabi ko sa kanila don’t give up, stick together, unti-untiin natin until fourth quarter, and NU gave us a lot of chances para makahabol kami,” she added.
“We made good stops in the last one minute. I think that spells the difference, yung puso ng mga players ko na hindi bumigay kahit down 15 sila,” the former national team head coach continued.
This would be UST’s 12th championship in the women’s division, breaking the tie with Far Eastern University for the most wins in league history.
Nikki Villasin, a graduating guard from Chicago, hit the biggest basket of her career, a fastbreak layup with 11.8 seconds left on the clock, giving UST the lead for sure and returning the crown to España.
Before entering the last ten minutes of the game, the Lady Bulldogs were in command. The UAAP Season 85 champions led 61-47 entering the fourth quarter, but were held to only eight points the rest of the game.
Tantoy Ferrer, a graduate forward who missed the 5-on-5 competition previous season due to an ACL tear, helped UST storm back. Ferrer used a 9-2 personal run that included two triples and three free throws to get the Growling Tigresses within two points, 69-67, with 2:20 remaining.
Ferrer was named Finals MVP after averaging 15.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 steals.
“Alam kong matagal mo nang inaantay ito coach,” said the Finals MVP, who scored 19 points and 14 rebounds while being a plus-23 in 26 minutes and 50 seconds on the court.
“Alam kong 2018 pa lang coach, nung pumasok kami nina Tacky (Tacatac), sabi ko, ‘Coach, hindi puwede kaming e-exit kami dito sa UST team na walang championship na ibibigay sa iyo. Sa wakas coach nabalik na natin yung korona sa España’,” the Calapandayan forward added.
Kent Pastrana led the way with 16 points, while Angelina Villasin chipped in with 12, including her final two points in the country’s highest collegiate division.
Aside from Tin Cayabyab’s 18 points, the Lady Bulldogs had contributions from Pringle Fabruada (13 points and four rebounds) and Ann Pingol (11 points and six rebounds).
Camille Clarin, who had averaged 18.0 points and 7.0 assists in this series prior to this game, was restricted to just two points and two assists on 0-of-11 shooting.