With their backs against the wall, the DLSU Lady Archers will seek to keep their season alive when they take on the NU Lady Bulldogs in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 79 Women’s Basketball Finals tomorrow, at 11 am, in the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Lady Archers will try to build on the positives of their tough 77-74 loss to the NU Lady Bulldogs in Game 1, while last season’s champions will try to put another potentially perfect season to a close.
Looking back at Game 1
Last Saturday, La Salle put up a resilient stand against the undefeated Lady Bulldogs, surrendering a close 77-74 loss that moved NU to within a win of their third straight title. Khate Castillo and Camille Claro led La Salle in their upset bid, with the former scoring a team-high 18 points on four three-pointers, while the latter posted 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out seven assists. Gemma Miranda led NU with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while league MVP Afril Bernardino added 10 points.
Despite the odds stacked against them, the Lady Archers turned a 20-19 first quarter deficit into a 39-28 lead at halftime. NU’s 17 first-half turnovers and the Lady Archers’ proper offensive execution allowed DLSU to pull away against the Lady Bulldogs. Mythical Five member Snow Penaranda scored 12 of her 16 points in the opening half, but NU used a 28-point third quarter to regain control in the second half. In the final quarter, both teams traded baskets, with NU’s championship composure bringing them to victory.
“It takes two wins to win a championship. They just had one win, we still have two chances. They still have to beat us to win the championship. So it’s not yet over, we still have two more games to win,” said head Cholo Villanueva on the scenario at hand.
Keys to victory
A major key for La Salle in Game 2 will be to use its speed and full court pressure in order to replicate their second-quarter effort in Game 1. A collective effort from the Green-and-White will be needed to neutralize the much taller Lady Bulldogs in the paint. Aside from replicating their efforts for 40 minutes, fluid offensive team play will have to be at the center of DLSU’s game plan in order for them to pull off the upset. Penaranda and Bennette Revillosa will be vital in leading the charge for the team from Taft in the post. The duo of Claro and Castillo, on the other hand, will need to play instrumental roles once again in giving La Salle valuable baskets from the perimeter.
NU will look to take the title by continuing to capitalize on its height advantage. The Lady Bulldogs outrebounded the Lady Archers, 49-35, and held an overwhelming 7-1 advantage on blocks. All in all, disrupting La Salle’s rhythm, particularly on the offensive end, will be the key for them to coast to the championship.
“We just need to work more on our rebounding, our blocking out. That’s the glaring advantage that NU has and they’re the champion team so for us, it’s everything to gain, this experience being in the finals for the first time for me and learning,” Villanueva explained.
Game 2 will provide both teams with two possibilities. A DLSU win will even things up and forge a winner-take-all match that can go either way despite the outcomes in the elimination round. An NU win, on the other hand, will cement a dynasty which continues to grow with each passing season. If last Saturday’s encounter was any indication, both teams will play at the top of their games, giving their respective communities another instant classic.