In final season, NU’s Antiquera ready to give her all

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NU guard Trixie Antiquera torched UE for 30 points in Game 1. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – Graduating guard Trixie Antiquera made all the difference for National University against University of the East in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 80 women’s basketball Finals on Wednesday.

The Lady Bulldogs had already gotten off to a great start, leading the Lady Warriors 22-7 at the end of the opening frame. Antiquera personally made sure that they would not be able to recover, as she torched UE for 14points in the second quarter alone.

The guard made five of her six shots, including three three-pointers, to push the Lady Bulldogs to a massive 43-21 halftime advantage. She would single-handedly match UE’s output in the second frame; NU went on to lead by 36 points in the 89-61 rout.

“I’m just happy for the girls, and especially for Trixie,” a beaming coach Pat Aquino said after the game, which was NU’s 63rd straight victory since 2014.

“It’s her last playing year, and she had that game,” he added. “Hindi ko naman masyado ine-expect, but at least, ngayon lumabas.”

Antiquera finished with 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting for the highest output in the women’s division this season. That it came against UE in Game 1 of the Finals was a massive boost of confidence for the player and her team, considering how NU had struggled against the Lady Warriors in Season 80.

Indeed, UE came very close to handing NU its first loss in three years during their first game of the season, though the Lady Bulldogs managed to hack out a 69-66 victory in overtime.

With a chance to win a fourth straight women’s title, Antiquera was not about to let UE derail her team.

“Last season ko na ito,” she said. “Nag-promise ako sa team ko na all out na ‘to, bibigay ko na lahat ng kaya kong ibigay.”

Still, even Antiquera did not expect to shoot that well against UE. She normed 11.4 points in the elimination round, shooting 34.5% from the field. Against the Lady Warriors, she shot 58% and was simply on fire from three-point range, making seven of 11 shots.

“Masaya ako kasi lahat ng extra shooting ko after practice, nagbungay,” she said. “Tsaka sabi ng mga coaches ko, magtiwala lang sa sarili.”

“What a performance,” her coach said in response. 

It was not all Antiquera, however. While the guard took Best Player honors for her scoring explosion, Ria Nabalan also contributed 16 points, and newly crowned MVP Jack Animam had 10 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks in the game.

Aquino is hoping that his team will come up with another strong effort for Game 2 on Sunday, as they try to clinch another perfect season and a four-peat to boot.

“I hope we’ll be ready again,” he said. “I know UE is going to come back, and they’ll have a lot of energy coming back. I hope we’ll be ready to get the fourth championship.”

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