UAAP: In leading Lady Bulldogs to 5-peat, coach Patrick Aquino joins elite club

Besides Patrick Aquino (right) at NU, Norman Black at Ateneo and Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan at UE are the two other coaches who won at least five UAAP basketball championships. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines—National University head coach Patrick Aquino joined an elite group on Wednesday, after he steered the Lady Bulldogs to a fifth consecutive UAAP women’s basketball title.

The Lady Bulldogs completed their “five-peat” by beating Far Eastern University, 67-61, in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 finals. The triumph not only gave them another title; it was also their 80th consecutive win and fifth straight unbeaten season.

In the process, Aquino joined Norman Black and Baby Dalupan as the only coaches in UAAP history to have won five championships. Black memorably led the Ateneo Blue Eagles to a “five-peat” from Seasons 71 to 75; the legendary Dalupan, meanwhile, was the architect of University of the East’s dynasty in the 1960s and early 70s. 

The Red Warriors won the UAAP title for seven straight years (1965 to 1971), though they shared the 1967 title with University of Santo Tomas.

“Hindi ko ma-imagine ang sarili ko being compared to them,” said Aquino. “But you know, sabi ko nga, hindi ko naman makukuha ito kung ‘di sa mga tulong ng iba. Ng ibang tao, like coaching staff ko.”

He also stressed that the achievement belonged to his players, especially those who set the standard in previous seasons, players such as Afril Bernardino, Gemma Miranda, and Shelly Gupilan.

“Also, with the help of God and luck,” Aquino said. “Talagang sobrang saya-saya ko, and I never imagined na magagawa ko ito.”

“I never thought about this. Never in my whole life na we would come and do this. I’m just amazed and so proud of what we did,” he added.

Making the Lady Bulldogs’ achievement all the more impressive was that they won all five of their championships without dropping a single game since Season 77. Their 80-game winning streak is the longest in the UAAP, breaking the record owned by the Adamson softball team.

“Sabi ko sa’yo sobrang happy ko lang talaga, na ‘yung actually ‘yung goal namin is not the sweep. But ‘yung goal namin is the fifth straight championship. Bonus na siguro ‘yung 80 wins or yung 16-0 again,” Aquino explained.

The road ahead will only get tougher for the Lady Bulldogs, however. Already, Aquino is wary of the Lady Tamaraws, who will parade an intact roster in Season 82 while adding a foreign student-athlete.

“Siguro I have to get ready for them next year kasi they’re going to be an intact team, an import is kaming in also so we have to prepare harder and get another one,” said Aquino. 

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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