Lady Bulldogs out to stretch women's basketball dynasty
The NU Lady Bulldogs
UAAP
Lady Bulldogs out to stretch women's basketball dynasty
Roy Luarca (Philstar.com) - July 9, 2020 - 2:15pm

MANILA, Philippines – When the National University Lady Bulldogs found the winning formula, they kept it hidden.

Deprived of a women's basketball title since they joined the UAAP in 1938, the Lady Bulldogs under coach Patrick  Aquino finally barged into the champions' circle in the 77th season in 2014.

And since then, they haven't dropped a game en route to six straight championships and a league and national record of 96 straight wins.

Just how dominant are the Lady Bulldogs?

When they started their title run, the Lady Bulldogs  beat their rivals by an average of 13.6 points.  In 2015, they raised their margin of victory  to 25.4 points, settled for a 23.7 difference in 2016, increased it to 26.4 in 2017, padded it to 28.4 in 2018, and showed no mercy last year with an average gap of 30.7 points.

It's no longer the question of will they win.  It was by how many.

The route to success wasn't paved at first, of course.

But Coach Pat Aquino laid down a road foundation designed to last.

In his first year in 2012, the Lady Bulldogs nearly reached the Final Four. The next year they crashed the Finals where they bowed to the La Salle Lady Archers.

Rather than cower, the Lady Bulldogs only got fiercer. Powered by Afril Bernardnino, who eventually became three-time UAAP MVP, they swept the eliminations then trounced the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in the title duel.

From then on, the Lady Bulldogs were the prime target, with the University of the East Lady Warriors almost hitting the bullseye in 2017 when they forced overtime before yielding 66-69.

Last year's challenge was different. The Lady Bulldogs had to defend their title without their star player, 6-foot-5 center Jack Animam, who sustained an orbital fracture while donning the national colors in New Zealand.

Flaunting their depth, the Lady Bulldogs, with Rhena Itesi, Kelli Hayes, Mikka Cacho, Kaye Pingol and Monique Del Carmen combining forces; thwarted the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses twice to stretch their win-run.

In UAAP season 83, the Lady Bulldogs will look different.

Animam will bring her act to Taiwan, Hayes' one-and-done deal is over, and Del Carmen has graduated.

For sure, however, other Lady Bulldogs will emerge to pull up the slack.

With their winning formula, a seventh-straight perfect season is mission possible.

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