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    Monique del Carmen saves best for last with Finals MVP showing in farewell game

    Nov 23, 2019
    PHOTO: marlo cueto

    ALL Monique del Carmen wanted was to cap off her collegiate run in National University unbeaten, the same way her seniors Ria Nabalan and Jhianne Layug did last season.

    The task of completing another perfect season, however, looked in danger, first with the Lady Bulldogs not having Jack Animam for the Finals, and then the tight 70-65 Game One win three days prior.

    It didn't help that del Carmen wasn't satisfied with the way she trained ahead of the crucial Game Two.

    Lucky for the fifth-year court general, she had someone to pick her up when she was feeling down.

    "Kahapon, pangit pa ang tinraining ko. Pero buti nandyan si Kelli (Hayes) para i-push ako. Sabi ko na lang sa sarili ko, 'Save the best for last.' May mga doubts pa rin, pero sabi nga ng isang manager, 'Prove me wrong.'," she said.

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    Del Carmen also didn't expect a familiar face give her words of encouragement despite being oceans apart.

    "May nagtext sa akin, si Jack," she said. "Sabi niya, 'Good luck to my best PG.' So alam mo yun, gaganahan ka. Doon pa lang, sobrang feel ko na yung championship namin."

    The graduating guard went on to deliver a finest performance for NU, leading her side with 15 points, four assists, two rebounds, and two steals as it took a 66-54 conquest over University of Santo Tomas on Saturday in her final game as a Lady Bulldog.

    Making that performance more special was her taking home the Finals MVP, an award she never expected and led her shedding tears of joy in the middle of their celebration.
    "Di ko siya inexpect. Nagulat ako," the 21-year-old del Carmen said.

    It's just the fitting sendoff for her, together with backcourt partner Kaye Pingol, as well as fellow seniors Animam, Hayes, Rhena Itesi, and Sam Harada, as they all bid NU goodbye with a championship to boot and continue the Lady Bulldogs' winning legacy.

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    PHOTO: marlo cueto
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