Rest or rust? Lady Bulldogs return to action after long break and face Lady Eagles in finals
National University is counting on Afril Bernardino and four other Perlas Pilipinas players as they look to extend their reign in the UAAP. Photo from

NATIONAL University is more focused on winning the title rather than sweeping the UAAP Season 78 women’s basketball.

NU will take on Ateneo in the women’s final series starting on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the Lady Bulldogs holding a thrice-to-beat advantage.

Although they are two wins away from ending the season undefeated, NU coach Patrick Aquino said the team is careful not to get ahead of themselves.

“We are happy to be back in the finals and making it 14-0 again. But it’s still incomplete without the championship,” said Aquino.

“When we started the tournament, we said that we will take it one game at a time. Now we are still taking it one game at a time. Siguro sinuwerte o naka-chamba kaya naka-sweep. Winning with no defeat is a bonus na lang for us,” he added.

The Lady Bulldogs had a two-week break as they waited for the winner of the stepladder playoff, with the Lady Eagles winning over second-ranked La Salle to reach the finals for the first time since taking the crown in 2007.

Aquino said they held team building sessions to prepare for the finals.

“The level is getting higher and higher during this time,” said Aquino, saying Ateneo is a tough rival despite its 6-8 win-loss record and fourth place in the eliminations.

The Lady Bulldogs are led by Season 78 Most Valuable Player Afril Bernardino and four other members of the Perlas Pilipinas women’s basketball team.

Aquino said the team is also motivated to win the title with four graduating players in Shelly Gupilan, Andrea Tongco, Risa Paig, and Kristine Abriam.

“We have to be motivated to secure another championships especially for the seniors,” said Aquino.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports