To capture Game 1, NU finds encouragement in Lady Bulldogs greats

Levi Joshua Jr. Verora

Posted at Dec 07 2022 04:05 PM

Camille Clarin and the Lady Bulldogs are on the cusp of another UAAP championship. UAAP Media
Camille Clarin and the Lady Bulldogs are on the cusp of another UAAP championship. UAAP Media

MANILA, Philippines – A pep talk from their alumni pushed the National University Lady Bulldogs to a win away from a UAAP women’s basketball 7-peat.

The 6-time defending champions put on a clinical defensive masterpiece against De La Salle University on Wednesday, sending a statement through a dominant 93-61 win at Araneta Coliseum.

After the game, forwards Camille Clarin and Karl Ann Pingol bared that legends Jack Danielle Animam and Monique Allison Del Carmen paid a visit to NU’s Tuesday practice, motivating them ahead of Game 1 of the best-of-3 finals.

“They’re definitely had words of wisdom for us. They’ve been in this situation five, six times already so they know how it feels to be on top and have everyone try to put you down,” Clarin said.

“Having them in practice was not only about advice but also pushing us inside the court. It was a big difference.”

Pingol, who had 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in Game 1, pointed out a particular quote from Del Carmen which stood out and rubbed off the rest of the Lady Bulldogs.

“They reminded us that offense wins games but defense wins championships. That inspired us,” Pingol said.

“Throughout the second round, we kind of lost our identity as NU being a defensive team,” Clarin added. “Coming back, that’s exactly what we focused on and Jack reminded us how much it means to play together, play for each other.”

NU did translate the two alums’ inspiring words into success on the hardcourt. The Lady Bulldogs’ physicality and defense forced the Lady Archers to commit 21 turnovers, which became 32 turnover points.

La Salle was also limited to only a 32.3 percent shooting clip from the field, which included 2-of-12 from 3-point area.

“In that loss against La Salle, sometimes we went away from the system and that’s where the loss came from. This time, because we stayed together, we shone on the court,” Clarin said.

The Lady Bulldogs also had 24 second-chance points, as they chased 50-50 balls and extra possessions throughout the game.

“They pretty much encouraged us and reminded us of our loss. They wanted us to go hard and execute the way NU knows how to do,” Clarin furthered.

Animam and Del Carmen’s motivational talk also pushed NU’s other players to match the intensity of the stars.

Starter Rhocel Bartolo and Angel Surada, who were averaging less than 10 points combined entering Game 1, chipped in 12 and 10 points, respectively to provide support to Mikka Cacho’s team-high 16.

"Their presence alone was already motivating. I am glad the energy was felt by everyone and they had a great performance collectively," assistant coach Julie Amos said.

“We focused on our defense. We knew that we are all capable on offense, but defense was something we needed to really work on because if one commits a lapse, the entire team will lose track,” Pingol added.

Not to get ahead of themselves, the Lady Bulldogs will look to build on their Game 1 performance and get the job done when they battle their counterparts this weekend.

“Coach Aris (Dimaunahan) always tells us that we have 24 hours to celebrate our win. After that, we’ll focus and it’s back to zero. We’ll leave everything on the court the next time,” Cacho closed.