NU sinks La Salle to win Fr. Martin women’s crown

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The NU Lady Bulldogs celebrate after winning the Fr. Martin Cup title. Handout photo

MANILA, Philippines – The National University Lady Bulldogs leaned on returning veteran Trixie Antiquera to take down De La Salle University, 76-69, and secure the women’s crown in the 23rd Fr. Martin Cup over the weekend in the San Beda campus.

Antiquera had 18 points to tow the Lady Bulldogs to their second Fr. Martin title in three years.

A 9-0 run sparked by Ria Nabalan and Antiquera’s three-pointer in the last three minutes of the second quarter helped NU overtake the Lady Archers and secure a 39-34 lead at halftime.

Antiquera sank five of her six three-pointers in that period, and then gave way to the big plays of Nabalan and 6-foot-4 Congolese cager Rheena Itesi in the third quarter.

Nabalan had 16 points, including a drive in the last 35 seconds of the third that pushed NU ahead, 57-46. The Lady Bulldogs finished the tournament with seven straight victories.

“We had to stop their shooters, lessen our errors, and use our height advantage,” said NU coach Patrick Aquino. “The plan went well, and our small players found openings to shoot.”

Khate Castillo scored 16 points for La Salle, who suffered yet another setback to NU in a championship game. The Lady Archers had also lost to the Lady Bulldogs in the UAAP Season 79 women’s basketball finals late last year.

Meanwhile, the San Sebastian Staglets fended off the Letran Squires, 83-80, to win the crown in the juniors’ division.

Alex Desoo and Damie Cuntapay led the way for San Sebastian, with Cuntapay scoring seven of his 15 points in the second period to give the Staglets a 45-34 halftime cushion.

Kobe Monje sparked the Squires’ comeback in the second half, coming to as close as three points, 74-77, in the fourth period.

But Cuntapay teamed up with JP Timbacaya inside the paint to keep San Sebastian ahead.

“The boys showed their maturity,” said San Sebastian coach Mel Banua. “They overcame the rally. They found a way.”

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