FOLLOWING a milestone first runner-up finish in the UAAP last year, the National University women’s basketball team is leaving no stone unturned as it eyes no less than the championship this season.
The Lady Bulldogs displayed their full potential by upending Fu Jen Catholic University, 89-81, during a tune-up game in Taiwan.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Gemma Miranda, Camilla Escoto, Afril Bernardino, and Bingkang Abriam led the Bulldogs’ charge as they combined for a total of 38 points in the rousing win.
Using quick ball movement and deadly outside shooting, the Fu Jen cagebelles raced to an early 12-point lead in the first quarter.
But ball pressure and a choking defense worked wonders for the Lady Bulldogs, who finally took control in the second half that saw them lead by as many as 14 points.
Coach Patrick Aquino bared the Taiwan trip is part of assessing the composition of the team for the coming UAAP season as NU brought along its entire 18-man roster.
“Yes, dito kami pipili ng lineup. Pati yung dalawang players namin na under residency, sinama na namin to expose them,” said Aquino.
Team patron Dioceldo Sy said management expects a better performance from the team in the coming season after a historic runner-up finish behind De La Salle in Season 76.
Only considered for a top four finish, the Lady Bulldogs overachieved last year when they made it all the way to the Finals and dragged eventual champions Lady Archers into a winner-take-all Game Three before finally going down.
“We really believe this team has the capacity to win the title this time. It may be a tall order for the coaching staff, but we really have high expectations. Runner-up na kami last time, so we’ll work hard for the title,” said Sy, whose Ever Bilena franchise is the top sponsor of the team.
Sy is personally in Taiwan to observe the performance of the Lady Bulldogs, who wowed the crowd during their debut game on Tuesday.
“We always bring this team abroad to prepare them,” said Sy as he reiterated the team’s swift climb to the top.
The Lady Bulldogs will play three more college teams in Taiwan before returning to the country on Sunday.