MANILA, Philippines -- To see National University's (NU) historic winning streak come to an end was saddening for Pat Aquino, the architect of the Lady Bulldogs' dynasty in UAAP women's basketball.
Aquino coached the Lady Bulldogs from 2013 until 2021, steering them to six consecutive championships. From Season 77 until Season 81, they were undefeated -- a run of 96 straight victories.
NU stretched that streak to 108 games in Season 85, until it was snapped last November 23 by De La Salle University. The Lady Archers outlasted NU in overtime, 61-57, to hand the Lady Bulldogs their first loss since October 2013.
"It saddened me for the streak to stop. It saddens me," said Aquino, who was at Gilas Pilipinas practice when the historic result occurred. "Kasi nga, medyo matagal din 'yun, six years and more, the 96-0 that we had."
"Medyo malungkot on my part and the others. Not just me but other players also na nakasama ko before," he added.
NU's last loss before their record-breaking run also came against La Salle, in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 76 finals when they lost 69-61.
Aquino stepped down as NU head coach in May in order to focus on his duties with the Philippine women's national team. In his stead, Aris Dimaunahan took over as NU head coach, winning his first 12 games in charge before falling short against the Lady Archers.
"Akala ko aabot tayo doon sa 112 [consecutive wins]," Aquino admitted, referring to the record set by the University of Connecticut women's basketball team in the United States. "I know Coach Aris has been doing his job, but unfortunately na-break eh."
"So we can't siguro, hindi natin masisi si Coach Aris, hindi natin masisi ang mga players."
Aquino is simply hoping that the history they wrote will not be erased anytime soon. It took them four years to break the record of 72 consecutive victories previously held by the Adamson University softball team -- a feat they achieved in 2018.
"I know it's just a streak, but siyempre, it's been a long streak, you know? 108 games, straight. Hopefully nobody can beat that in the near future," said Aquino. "I hope that run will be unbeaten for the longest time, until I die siguro."
Though the streak is now over, Aquino pointed out that the ultimate goal is still within reach for the Lady Bulldogs.
"Just focus on ano ba 'yung focus natin -- to get the championship again," said Aquino, who revealed that some of his former players on the team -- notably Mikka Cacho and Camille Clarin -- reached out to him to apologize for the loss.
Rather than apologize, Aquino advised his former players to elevate their game and focus on the task at hand.
"Sabi ko, it happens, it really happens. This is the time to not really regroup, but this is the time you guys show up. You're the leaders out there, like CC and Mikka, you're the leaders, you're the oldest among the others," said Aquino.
"They have to be prepared. And, as far as Coach Aris is concerned, okay naman. Wala akong problema."
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.