By NIKOLE JAVIER
Former National University Lady Bulldogs head coach Pat Aquino believes the reigning women’s champion team would only need to assert its championship poise when it faces the De La Salle Lady Archers in the finals.
The Game 1 of the best-of-three title series between the two powerhouse teams in the UAAP Season 85 women’s basketball tournament is set on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The tactician, who brought the Lady Bulldogs to their 96 game winning streak that extended to 108 after he left the post, felt confident that the current pool is “capable of coming up with big games.”
“I know they can bounce back. Talking with the current players, sabi ko nga it’s not the end of it. Tapos na ‘yong streak, no more pressure anymore for you. But the goal is not yet finished. But I think having a championship again would erase [the heartbreak from] the 108 game winning streak,” said Aquino.
As Aquino would recall it, the last time La Salle came out on top of NU was back in Oct. 5, 2013 during the Finals Game 3 in Season 76.
However, it didn’t cross his mind that it won’t be until nine years later that the Lady Bulldogs would encounter their next heartbreak at the hands of the last team to ever give them a good beating.
The 51-year-old national coach exchanged a few words with fellow coach Cholo Villanueva of La Salle and commended him for his “great coaching job” in the women’s program following their 61-57 overtime victory over NU last Nov 23.
Despite his busy schedule, Aquino revealed that he remains closely in touch with some of the current players of NU and has not ceased to offer his words of comfort and advise after the streak came to an end.
Now that the pressure is behind one of the winningest teams in the league in recent years, Aquino has found himself always rooting for the six-time defending champions.
“Hopefully it’s gonna be a good championship game this Wednesday. And hopefully NU comes out better,” he concluded.