Triumphant Tigresses put women’s basketball in UST community’s consciousness

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Triumphant Tigresses put women�s basketball in UST community�s consciousness
The UST Growling Tigresses are the champions of the UAAP women's basketball world.
UAAP Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – For the UST Growling Tigresses, gone are the days of empty gyms, and quiet atmospheres. No more echoes of the basketball bouncing around the stands.

Because this time, there is yellow beaming from the crowd, and chants of “Go USTe” bouncing off the walls, as hundreds of the UST faithful witnessed the dawn of a new era in UAAP women’s basketball.

On Wednesday, the high and mighty NU Lady Bulldogs fell at the hands of the ferocious Tigresses, as they fashioned a come-from-behind 71-69 win in Game 3. 

None could be more joyous than the Growling Tigresses’ contingent in the thousand-strong crowd.

After the game, UST head coach Haydee Ong reflected on the growth of women’s basketball that she was able to witness in her years with the Tigresses.

“Grabe for the first time, kahit nung naglalaro ako sa UST, ‘di yata nag-yellow day kahit fourth, fifth kami. The community is superb,” said Ong.
“They just do not support only men's basketball or volleyball. Now… They know that women’s basketball is worth watching, and as exciting as men's basketball. Thank you talaga sa UST community.”

The Philippine sports community cannot deny the rapid growth of women’s hoops in the country, with the Lady Bulldogs and the Gilas Pilipinas women’s national team leading the way.

But now, as the community learns to improve and grow through the years, many have also stepped up to the plate. 

For the Growling Tigresses themselves, Ong hopes that it becomes a harbinger of better things to come.

“This will go down [in history] especially for UST because the last time we had our championship was 2006. Panahon pa nila Marichu Bacaro and sila Rem Buenacosa, and I think that says a lot to the level that NU raised the bar for women’s basketball,” said the tactician. 

“Seven times, seven consecutive years to be champion is one hell of a program for them. And, beating them today, never giving up, I think that says a lot about these special ladies in front of you that they deserve to be champions for Season 86.”

Still, Ong knows that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and at the end of the day, NU remains the goal for everyone else. Now that they’ve gotten to the point of beating the Lady Bulldogs, it’s all about continuing to raise the quality of play and keeping up with the times.

“Isa pa lang naman kami. Sila seven [championships] na. I think, ang naprove ko nga, sabi ko kanina sa interview is that lahat ng team ngayon is very competitive because of NU. They raised the bar,” said Ong. 

“Ay hindi na to pwede. They have a foreign student, kailangan lahat meron. So lahat is gaining up para umikli or lumiit yung gap against NU, and that’s why sabi ko sa girls, it’s a long journey, a long wait. Nagtiis kami and finally we are champions.”

UST’s bid for the UAAP Season 86 crown was spearheaded by graduating forward Tantoy Ferrer who averaged 15.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, three assists, and 1.3 steals in their three-game series.

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