The DLSU Lady Archers stand proud as this year’s UAAP Women’s Basketball champions. A sweet victory in a do-or-die Game Three of the finals completed their magical season which saw them go through several highs and lows. Their run was not a breeze as they were challenged strongly by top teams and faced a lot of uncertainty, especially during the middle of the elimination round.
The squad from Taft ended the eliminations with a 12-2 card that put them tied for first place along with this year’s co-finalist, the NU Lady Bulldogs. Coach Tyrone Bautista and his squad certainly did not relax throughout this season, as they only had one goal in mind, and that was to win the championship.
Despite a 5-2 standing in the first round, the Lady Archers were not contented as their goal for the season was to win the championship after they lost in the finals stage last season. In addition, their two losses came against their top two rivals, the defending champion FEU Lady Tamaraws and the surging NU squad.
The second round was similar to the previous round as they were defeated twice again, against FEU, who were bannered by the league MVP Camille Sambile, and a surprising AdU Lady Falcons squad.
However, due to a resolution from a UAAP Board Meeting midway through the second round, the Lady Tamaraws forfeited five of their games, two of them against DLSU. The forfeiture came due to guard Vangie Soriano’s playing in a commercial league during the on-going UAAP season, an act strictly prohibited by the rule book and punishable by forfeiture. With the forfeiture of the two DLSU-FEU matchups, the Lady Archers would end up with a 12-2 win-loss record heading into the semifinal round.
In the Final Four, second seeded DLSU would face the third-ranked UST Growling Tigresses with a twice-to-beat advantage. The game was one for the books as Camille Claro hit the game-tying three point shot to force an extra five minutes, tying the score line at 66 apiece to cap a run from five points down with less than 10 seconds left in the fourth period.
Heading into overtime, the Lady Archers’ confidence was overwhelming as they exploded and scored 15 points in the period – as opposed to UST’s eight – to advance to the UAAP finals for the second straight season.
The top two teams from the eliminations would square off to dispute the women’s title. DLSU would convincingly take the pivotal game one with a 24 point blowout, led by 16 points and 11 rebounds by star forward Ara Abaca.
Game Two was a different story altogether as the complete opposite happened. The Lady Bulldogs thrashed the Lady Archers via a 19 point rout. NU was led by their starting point guard, Andrea Tongco, who willed her way to 23 points.
In the winner-take-all Game Three, the reliable duo of Abaca and Trisha Piatos led the charge with 16 and 15 points respectively to complete their quest for their first championship since 2002.
The Finals MVP award was given to Piatos who had averages of 14.7 points, five rebounds, two blocks and 2.3 steals for all three championship games. Abaca also claimed a spot in the UAAP Mythical Team.
With an 11 year title drought ended, the Lady Archers now focus on defending their title and go for back-to-back championships next season.