ONE is seeking history. The other is hoping to regain lost glory.
With such backdrop, the De La Salle Lady Archers and the determined National University Lady Bulldogs battle for championship supremacy in the UAAP Season 76 women’s basketball Finals.
The two teams kick off the best-of-three title series on Saturday when Game One is played at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In their 75-year stint in the league, this marks the first time the Lady Bulldogs made both the Final Four and the championship series.
“This is really our first time in the semis and this is also our debut in the finals. So hopefully in our own little way, maka-grand slam kami ngayong taon … as first-time champions,” said NU Lady Bulldogs patron Dioceldo Sy.
But ending the longest title drought in the history of the UAAP will not be easy for the Lady Bulldogs as they face a deadly and experienced Lady Archers side which has already won the title four times in the past.
Going to the Finals, the two teams split their head-to-head encounter during the eliminations. NU drew first blood, 64-55, before La Salle came back with a 77-69 triumph.
“That was one of our ugliest losses,” admitted NU coach Patrick Aquino. “That time, for the leadership 'yun. Nawala sa focus mga players, it’s one of our worst performances talaga.”
But for La Salle coach Tyrone Bautista, the outcome of their elimination-round encounters no longer matters.
“Totally ibang arena na itong finals, back to square one kami ngayon,” said Bautista, who is trying to regain the women’s title the school last won in 2003.
“And if there is something going for us pero hindi clear advantage is we played in the finals last year,” said Bautista while recalling the pain of the Lady Archers’ title series loss to Far Eastern University last season.
“The players know the feel of the game in this kind of situation, and that’s what we’re expecting NU will experience as well sa finals, sana!” said Bautista, himself a former Green Archer.