Coaches, stars delight in return of UAAP women's hoops

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2022 03:41 PM

The NU Lady Bulldogs won their 97th straight game in their first assignment of UAAP Season 855. UAAP Media.
The NU Lady Bulldogs won their 97th straight game in their first assignment of UAAP Season 855. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- The full court version of UAAP women's basketball officially returned this weekend, with reigning champions National University (NU) picking up from where they left off while University of Santo Tomas (UST) fired a warning to the rest of the league.

It has been almost three years since women's 5-on-5 basketball was played in the UAAP, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of Season 83 and the event wasn't included in the Season 84 program.

Women's 3x3 basketball was played last June, with the NU Lady Bulldogs emerging triumphant anew. But even at the time, the players were already looking ahead to the 5-on-5 tournament.

"To have the one thing in your life taken away from you for three years, it's heartbreaking," NU star Camille Clarin said at the time. "I'm just so glad that all of my teammates and all of my opponents finally get the chance to play again."

"Our mindset we all try to keep it positive," said Ateneo de Manila University's Jhazmin Joson, for her part. "Since the men's started, it's already good enough for us 'cause since they started, we knew that we were gonna start soon."

Both Clarin and Joson's teams were triumphant on opening weekend, though in contrasting fashion. The Lady Bulldogs overwhelmed the University of the East, 131-47, for their 97th straight win dating back to 2014. Meanwhile, the Blue Eagles survived for a 67-64 triumph against Far Eastern University.

Also emerging as winners on opening day were the UST Tigresses, who beat Adamson University 106-70. De La Salle University took down the University of the Philippines, 73-51.

"I'm very happy and excited that women's basketball is back in Season 85. Talagang unang salbo ang UST," said Haydee Ong, head coach of the Tigresses, after their win. "We're happy that we got our first win in Season 85. There's a lot of work to be done. This is just the beginning."

Tacky Tacatac, who spearheaded UST's triumph, was equally thrilled to return after an absence of more than two years. 

"Sobrang sarap, lalo na makabalik ng paglalaro," she said. "Sobrang saya po na finally, ma-showcase na din po namin 'yung talent namin."

Aris Dimaunahan, who is the new head coach of NU after he took over from Pat Aquino in May, said that with the return of UAAP women's basketball, their players now have "their stage" back.

"This is their stage, this is their sport. This is their platform to show everyone that women can play basketball and could compete at a high level," he noted. "All credit goes to them and to all the players competing here in this tournament."

"I'm happy for everyone, and it's a good competition," he added.

UAAP women's hoops will be played at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion every Wednesday, with all eight teams seeing action. 

Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.

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