Despite an amazing elimination round performance that saw them finish with 12 victories and two defeats, the DLSU Lady Archers had their season come to a shocking end after being upset by the ADMU Lady Eagles in two games, 55-53, 62-50, in the stepladder semifinals of the recently concluded UAAP Season 78 Women’s Basketball tournament.
Prior to facing La Salle, Ateneo went through a pair of knockout games against their counterparts from UST and UE. The Blue-and-White managed to come out on top despite facing the heavily favored Lady Archers squad who not only swept their season series against the Lady Eagles, but also held a twice-to-beat advantage against them.
With the defeat, the Green-and-White finish their season in third place, replicating last season’s performance as the undefeated NU Lady Bulldogs claimed their second consecutive title after blowing out ADMU in two finals matches. La Salle’s season ended in an upset for the second straight year after falling to the FEU Lady Tamaraws last season.
La Salle opened the season with a defeat at the hands of the Lady Bulldogs, 90-78. The squad went on to bounce back and end the first round of eliminations on a six-game winning streak to take second place in the standings.
Throughout the season, the team utilized a full-court press, converting turnovers into fastbreak opportunities. On offense, the Lady Archers relied on ball movement and crisp three-point shooting to account for majority of their points scored.
Led by the veteran trio of Ara Abaca, Ana Castillo, and Camille Claro, the Taft-based squad went on to win their first six games in the second round, extending their winning streak to 12 games. In their pivotal final elimination game against NU, La Salle stayed close throughout the game in a bid to deny their rivals an automatic finals berth. However, they went on to lose, 81-74, the closest any team had come to defeating the dominant Lady Bulldogs this season.
Ending with disappointment
La Salle entered the playoffs with high hopes and expectations after ending the elimination round as the second seed. With NU finishing the eliminations undefeated, the postseason was played with a stepladder format rather than the standard Final Four format. The Lady Archers were given a bye to the semifinals with a twice-to-beat advantage against arch rivals ADMU, who had defeated the third-seeded University of the East.
After sweeping ADMU in their two elimination round match-ups, La Salle was heavily favored to advance to the finals. Sloppy play and more intensity from the Lady Eagles caused the demise of the Taft-based squad in Game 1 of the semifinals. Thus, Ateneo forced a winner-take-all Game 2.
In Game 2, the Lady Archers were in for another nail-biter late in the fourth quarter. However, a late surge from Ateneo was just too much for La Salle to handle. Both teams left it all out on the court but the Lady Eagles were just the better team that day. With the loss, DLSU bowed out of the tournament.
For Abaca, team captain Alyanna Ong, Fretzie Oyao, and Annarica Pineda, this loss marks the end of their respective careers as Lady Archers, with Abaca ending her career as a member of this season’s Mythical Five. Their contributions to the success of the team, both on and off the court, will not be forgotten by the Lasallian community.