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Figueroa, Ozar catch fire

Jake Figueroa of NU and Louna Ozar of UP get the nod as the Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Players of the Week.(PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF UAAP)

The past week has been fruitful for both the National University men’s basketball team and the women’s squad of University of the Philippines.

Both teams swept their assignments to stay on the leaderboard of their respective divisions in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 all thanks to the stellar performances of their top stars.

Jake Figueroa was the figure behind the Bulldogs surge while the Fighting Maroons recorded their best start in 15 years after staying unbeaten in five games because of the steady presence of Louna Ozar.

For their great showing, Figueroa and Ozar were feted as Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Men’s and Women’s Players of the Week, respectively, for the period 9 to 15 October.

NU was quick to recover from a painful loss to league-leading UP with Figueroa serving as the driving force in its 87-69 drubbing of University of Santo Tomas last Wednesday and an 80-77 overtime victory over the streaking De La Salle University last Sunday.

In those two matches, he averaged 13.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.0 steals as the Bulldogs jumped to a 4-1 win-loss record at solo second spot behind the unbeaten Fighting Maroons (5-0).

Figueroa edged out Far Eastern University’s L-Jay Gonzales, Harold Alarcon of UP, La Salle’s Kevin Quiambao, and Ced Manzano of Adamson University for the weekly citation presented by San Miguel Corporation and backed by minor sponsors Discovery Suites and Jockey.

With NU trailing La Salle by three in regulation, Figueroa hit a booming corner three with about 12 seconds remaining to tie the game and force overtime. The Bulldogs then took over in the extension.

“I just followed what we trained for our game plan and I just played the role given to me by coach Jeff (Napa),” Figueroa said.

He delivered 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 37 minutes against La Salle.

“The ‘Mighty Thor’ (Figueroa), showed up, what else could I say? He played for 37 minutes. He told us he’ll just take a minute’s rest then he’ll get back on the floor,” Napa said of the former UAAP Juniors’ Most Valuable Player.

In the women’s division, Ozar became the second Fighting Maroon to win the weekly award after her teammate Favour Onoh earned the first nod of Season 86.

The 5-foot-8 Ozar, who came off a fruitful stint with the Gilas Pilipinas Women in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, helped UP maintain its flawless campaign with wins over the FEU, 64-61, and UST, 73-69.

Her display of skills eclipsed other nominees Ateneo’s Kacey dela Rosa, NU’s Camille Clarin and teammate Kaye Pesquera for the award.

The Filipino-French guard averaged 15.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.0 steals in two games.

But she deflected all the credit as she tipped her hat to her teammates.

“From the start, we were fighting until the end. And, we always support each other,” said Ozar, who had 16 points and four steals against UST in overtime on Saturday.

Ozar and UP try to extend their unbeaten run to six games against La Salle on Wednesday at the Adamson Gym.

Figueroa and NU, on the other hand, seek to keep the solo second place when they battle University of the East also on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

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