NATIONAL University-Ever Bilena finally showed its championship mettle by crushing University of the East-Cherrylume, 78-50, in Game 1 of their best-of-three title series in the 1st Rexona Women’s Invitational Tournament at the Buddhacare gym in Quezon City.
With Daniel Animan and Afril Bernardino at the helm, the Patrick Aquino-mentored NU belles got off to a rip-roaring start, taking a commanding 29-11 lead which proved huge enough to take the fight out of the erstwhile unbeaten Lady Warriors.
The win pulled NU within a win of adding the Rexona-presented tournament to its vast collection of titles having dominated the UAAP tournament for three years without dropping a single game.
They can clinch the title with another win on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the same venue.
Animan and Bernardino scored 13 points while six other NU players scored five points or more as the Lady Bulldogs ended their two-game losing jinx to the Lady Warriors.
“We finally solved UE’s riddle and credit that to my players’ determination and patience,” said Aquino. “They beat us in the elims and semis, hopefully we can beat them also two in a row.”
Apart from the difficulty of getting through NU’s interior defense, the Lady Warriors shot poorly from afar, making only 16 of 70 tries for 23 percent.
Inspired by their hot start, the Lady Bulldogs even padded their lead to 62-37 going into the final period.
UE’s defeat spoiled Chack Cabinbin’s coronation as the league MVP. She also led the Mythical Selection along with UE’s Eunice Chan, PAF’s Cindy Resultay, Bernardino and Animan.
Meantime, Centro Escolar University and Air Force clash for third place tomorrow in the event organized by the PCBL.