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Lady Bulldogs stay alive, force rubber match vs Tigresses

MANILA, Philippines – The NU Lady Bulldogs kept their bid for an eighth straight UAAP championship alive as they squeaked past the UST Growling Tigresses, 72-70, in Game 2 of the Season 86 women’s basketball finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.

The Lady Bulldogs pulled off two great defensive stops down the stretch against UST ace Kent Pastrana to keep their season alive.

One-and-done guard Stef Berberabe was responsible for the game-winning stop on a Pastrana long-two try as NU parried its rivals and sent the series to a Game 3 slated on Wednesday, December 6.

“Buhay pa kami. We always set a modest goal for our team every time, every play we’ll step on the court. Today’s mindset was to stay alive, we stayed in the present, we didn’t think of Game 1 and we don’t even think of Game 3,” said NU head coach Aris Dimaunahan. 

“Our main focus was Game 2 only, not even thinking about the result of this game. Our focus mainly was yung bits and pieces needed to be done in order to get the results that we want,” he added.

Pastrana called her own number in the final possession after two crucial misses from the charity stripe from Camille Clarin left the door wide open for UST to steal the game and the crown from the Lady Bulldogs.

The veteran missed both of her freebies with 11.7 ticks left in the ball game on a chance for some insurance makes when the Tigresses were forced to play the foul game as they trailed late.

In the previous play, there was another defensive stop on Pastrana, with Maymay Canuto stripping her of the rock on a fast break play with 17.4 remaining.

Despite her misses from the free throw line, Clarin was NU’s go-to scorer with 18 points to go along with two rebounds, eight assists, and a steal. Karl Pingol, meanwhile, chipped in 14 markers, five boards, and two dimes.

Both players were also responsible for powering NU’s comeback after UST jumped to another strong start in Game 2.

Clarin converted on an and-one in the middle of a 14-2 run for NU late in the third quarter, which saw them seize a six-point lead, 58-52, with 1:15 remaining in the period.

Pastrana, for her part, led UST in the losing effort with 15 points, three rebounds, four