NATIONAL University routed De La Salle, 90-78, to open its bid for a second straight championship on a high note Tuesday in the UAAP Season 78 women's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Reigning MVP Afril Bernardino and Shelley Gupilan, vital cogs in the Philippines' promotion to Level 1 in the Fiba Asia Women's Championship, combined for 26 points as the Lady Bulldogs extended their winning run in the tournament dating back from last year when they won the title via a 16-game sweep.
“Even I'm away for one and a half months, I keep monitoring the team. I'm happy that the girls really wanted to win,” said NU coach Patrick Aquino, who also handles the Perlas national team.
“We are taking things one game at a time,” he added.
The Lady Bulldogs also drew big games from Ria Nabalan, who had 12 points, and Congo's Rheana Itesi, who pulled down 11 rebounds.
NU joined Adamson University, University of the East, and University of Santo Tomas for the early lead in the young tournament.
Ana Castillo paced the Lady Archers with 15 points, six boards and five assists, Alyanna Vergara had 14 markers, while Camille Claro and Snow Peñaranda scored 13 points apiece.