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Red-hot NU nears playoff bonus

CAMILLE Clarin and the NU Lady Bulldogs have moved one win away from clinching the twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball tournament. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UAAP

League-leading National University displayed its full arsenal against also-ran University of the East to clinch a 75-57 win in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 women’s basketball tournament on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The win gave the Lady Bulldogs their ninth straight win to improve to 11-1 win-loss card with still two games left in the eliminations.

They have a chance to formalize their claim of the twice-to-beat incentive in the next round when they face struggling Adamson University on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, last season’s runner-up De La Salle University continued its late push for a Final Four slot after it stunned University of the Philippines, 75-71.

The Lady Archers, who started their campaign at 1-6, have now won four of their last six to raise their slate to 5-7, 2.5 games behind fourth-running Ateneo de Manila University for the last semifinal slot.

NU coach Aris Dimaunahan said they went full blast against the Lady Warriors, knowing that they have what it takes to pull off an upset.

“It’s always tough to play a team that has no pressure coming into the game and that’s UE for today,” Dimaunahan said.

“I’m glad that we conducted ourselves today better than we played against La Salle and UST because we are all asking for our players’ consistency in our game.”

Already enjoying a 10-point lead late in the second quarter, the Lady Bulldogs then scored seven more unanswered points to close the frame and enter the half ahead by 17, 41-24.

It turned out to be the last time the Lady Warriors came close to within 10 points as the Lady Bulldogs managed to take care of their huge lead the rest of the way.

Dimaunahan had the luxury of using all his 15 players in the first half with 11 of them barging into the scoring column. In the end, all but one of them scored at least two points to underscore the Lady Bulldogs’ balanced attack.

“We have to play together so we will reach our goal of winning a championship. We have to admit that we are not playing together and have been inconsistent the past few games,” Angel Surada, who led the Lady Bulldogs with 11 points and six rebounds, said.

“We really need to play as one.”

Marylene Solis, a sophomore from Chiang Kai Shek College who averaged 4.0 points per game, had nine points while Maymay Canuto, Pringle Fabruada and Camille Clarin also delivered eight markers apiece.

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