MANILA, Philippines – National University (NU) veteran Trixie Antiquiera picked the perfect time to transform into the "Human Torch" for the Lady Bulldogs.
Antiquiera was solid, but rarely spectacular, for the Lady Bulldogs in the elimination round of the UAAP Season 80 women's basketball tournament. She averaged 11.4 points per game, and shot 32.3% from beyond the arc – a respectable rate, but she definitely would not be mistaken for Stephen Curry.
But in the finals against University of the East, Antiquiera made threes at a rate that would wow even the Golden State Warriors superstar. In two games against the Lady Warriors, the graduating veteran knocked down 13 of her 20 three-pointers – a 65% clip from beyond the arc.
She averaged 24.5 points in the finals, and was a major reason for NU's perfect season and fourth straight title. Fittingly, Antiquiera earned Finals MVP honors in her last season with the Lady Bullldogs.
"Ito pong award na ito, hindi ko ine-expect," Antiquiera said after their historic triumph. "Basta sabi ko nga, last game ko, all out na. Lahat ng kaya kong ibigay, ibibigay ko na."
As she basked in the glow of a fourth consecutive title, Antiquiera said that her Finals MVP trophy was a tribute to her coach, Pat Aquino, who believed in the diminutive guard from Bacolod even when few others did.
"Noong una, ayaw sa akin ng management, kasi maliit daw ako," Antiquiera bared.
"Pero si Coach Pat, nilaban niya ako. Kaya thank you po, Coach," she said.
Aquino beamed with pride as Antiquiera torched UE for seven three-pointers in their 89-61 win in Game 1, and was amazed to see his veteran guard keep up her hot shooting in Game 2, firing six more triples in a come-from-behind 79-68 victory.
"For the past two games, she was incredible," said Aquino.
In Aquino's eyes, Antiquiera's performance in the finals validated his decision to fight for the guard's inclusion in his roster, despite doubts coming from all corners.
"When we were starting to pick up 'yung recruitment, all the girls that I had were really tall," said Aquino, who counts the twin towers of Jack Animam and Rhena Itesi among his other key players. "But I had to bring her in, because she was a great shooter when I watched her in Bacolod."
Antiquiera carried her incredible shooting prowess from regional competitions in Bacolod all the way to the Palarong Pambansa, and that convinced Aquino to bring her to NU.
"I believed in her," he stressed. "And pinapakita naman niya every practice, every game na nakasama ko siya for the past five years."
"Talagang hindi niya ako napahiya," Aquino said proudly. "So very thankful din ako, na napakita niya ang galing niya."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.