Answered prayer for former NU owners as Bulldogs near end to long UAAP title drought
Arlene Royo and Company savor the Bulldogs' victory in Game Two. Richard Dy

ONE familiar face clasped her hands in prayer in the final quarter of Game Two of the UAAP men's basketball finals on Wednesday, seeking one favor for her long-suffering National University Bulldogs.

Her wish was granted.

The old lady caught in fervent prayer on television was Arlene Royo, a member of the Paguia family that used to own NU before the Sampaloc-based school was taken over by the family of taipan Henry Sy in 2008.

Royo is the brother of longtime Bulldogs coach Sonny Paguia and daughter of the late Leticia Jhocson-Paguia, who was more popularly known as 'Mommy Paguia' and for a long time was one of the biggest supporters of baseball development in the country.

Another brother, Roberto or 'Bam,' also used to be a member of the UAAP board. He died last January at the age of 75.

Royo is one of the surviving few who witnessed NU win its first and so far only UAAP championship back in 1954. She said she was a member of the cheering squad at that time. She declined to reveal her age.

[See NU-on at ngayon: How Hans Sy's backing turned NU from minnow to title contender]

As a former NU athletic director and its representative to the UAAP board, Royo was also very much around during the dark days when NU endured one losing season after another at the bottom of the league pile.

No wonder Royo is simply thankful to see the Bulldogs back in title contention in the collegiate league.

“This time, I always say, 'Thank you Lord.' I'm so happy, with all the NU community cheering. I'm very, very happy," Royo told after the Bulldogs won Game Two against Far Eastern University, 62-47, on Wednesday.

Royo is expected to be around again on Wednesday when the Bulldogs gun for their first league championship in 60 years in the deciding Game Three. And she hopes her prayers will be finally answered.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava