National University stretched its winning streak to 100 following a masterful 79-44 victory over University of the Philippines in Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the University of Santo Tomas Quadricentennial Pavilion in Manila.
The victory was truly special.
The last time the Lady Bulldogs lost was almost a decade ago when they dropped a 69-61 decision to De La Salle University in Game 3 of the best-of-three finals series of Season 76.
Since then, the Lady Bulldogs played like a well-oiled machine.
With national team mentor Patrick Aquino at the helm, the Lady Bulldogs booked win No. 1 — a 71-60 victory over Adamson University on 12 July 2014 — to launch what would go down as the most successful run, not just in the country, but probably in the world.
Afril Bernardino, Ria Nabalan and Gemma Miranda — all future Gilas Women members – served as anchors of that trailblazing squad that swept the season to gain an automatic seat in the finals.
The Lady Bulldogs swept Far Eastern University in the finals en route to winning six titles with two Most Valuable Player and five Finals MVP awardees in the next nine years.
Aside from that, NU was also able to serve as the launching pad of Jack Animam, who led the school to five titles before embarking on an international career.
NU coach Aris Dimaunahan humbly brushed off the credit, saying that it building a winning empire out of hard work, determination and sheer talent was the brainchild of Aquino.
“This game – the 100th win – is an honor to those who played before us, most especially to the one who served as the architect of this streak, my good friend Patrick Aquino,” said the 44-year-old Dimaunahan, who assisted Aquino in the national team program.
“I know you will agree with me but he is the best women’s basketball coach in the country and this win is for him.”
Dimaunahan admitted that there was massive pressure when Aquino handed him the coaching reigns with 96 consecutive wins prior the start of the season.
“It’s humbling to step up the plate and continue what Coach Pat had started. There are big shoes to fill,” said Dimaunahan, whose daughter, Christiana, was also part of the fabled team.
“But we are just hanging in there with the players. We are not looking at the winning streak. Our main focus is improving daily and letting the results take care of itself.”
Against the Fighting Maroons in the history-clinching encounter, Mikka Cacho scored 15 points and five rebounds while Marylene Solis dropping nine markers off the bench for the Lady Bulldogs, who tightened their defensive screws early on to set the stage for the 35-point massacre that gave them a 4-0 win-loss record.
Acrissa Maw scored 12 points in a losing effort for UP, whose two-game winning streak was snapped.
“Today, we emphasized on defense,” Dimaunahan added.
“I thought we did better today than the UST game and we want to re-establish our identity today.”
Meanwhile, De La Salle University registered a 76-53 win over University of the East while Adamson dominated FEU, 95-61, early in the day.
University of Santo Tomas also escaped Ateneo de Manila University, 69-68, for its third win in four matches.