Placing either on the second spot or third spot for the past few weeks, the Green and Lady Shuttlers mounted a last minute rally to finish on top of the UAAP Season 74 Badminton qualifiers.
The Taft-based squads ended the last day of eliminations in a convincing fashion, garnering the top seed in their respective divisions last Aug. 28 at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
The Green Shuttlers ousted the boosted National U in a highly contested 3-2 scuffle, while the Lady Shuttlers shut down the Green-and-Gold bid for an elimination sweep, via a perfect 5-0 scorecard.
It was indeed a battle for the top since the Green Shuttlers were one game short behind NU Bulldogs at 5-1, with the Lady Shuttlers sharing the same sentiments against the FEU Tamarraws before the final tussle.
Six-game game winning streak
“Di dapat magmadali at sa susunod dapat ganun din yung laro,” says JC Clarito as it took him three sets to dispose National U’s Aries De Los Santos, sealing win number six for the Green Shuttlers.
He feathered out De Los Santos in the deciding singles match, 28-26, 17-21, 21-18, to break the earlier standstill at 2-2.
“Majority of the NU players are part of the National team that tops National tournaments, including the one I defeated in the deciding match. We won because of teamwork,” Clarito adds in Filipino.
In a sport that is played individually and in the case of doubles, with partners, a single player cannot win the game alone. As the UAAP Badminton follows a team-tie format where one team have to earn three cumulative matches to win the game, winning is definitely a team effort.
Earlier in the match, teammate John Kenneth Monterubio conceded the opening singles against Joper Escueta, 21-19, 21-14, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 cushion.
On the 25th minute of the second singles, seasoned Ronel Estanislao levelled it for DLSU by crashing Sampaloc’s Andrei Babad in straight sets, 21-8, 21-10.
Both teams split the doubles contests to arrange the thrilling final singles between Clarito and De Los Santos.
Estanislao returned with Nej Martinez to nick the Doubles 1 bout against Escueta and Sonny Montilla at 22-20, 21-18, while the succeeding doubles pairing went to National U, as Ivan Angsico and Gerald Sibayan yielded to Andrei Babad and De Los Santos, 14-21 and 18-21.
Clarito’s solid performance gave the Green Shuttlers a 6-1 win-loss card and an inch closer to the championship they held last 2008.
Back for the crown
The Lady Shuttlers also demonstrated championship calibre as they avenged their title loss last year against the FEU Tamarraws, which also bucked the exit of Season 73 MVP Rochelle Briones to graduation.
“Pinaghandaan namin ang kalaban dahil sa experience na nagyari last year sa championship. Na-prove na ang number one slot talaga ay para sa DLSU (We really prepared for our match against FEU because of last season. We proved that DLSU rightfully deserves the number one slot in the eliminations),” Shuttlers’ Head Coach Owen Lopez shares.
Former MVP Descka Calimlim held off FEU’s mentor Lloyd Escoses’ first singles pick, Kim Mayono, 21-18, 21-17. Danica Bolos then continued the Lady Shuttlers’ rampage with a 21-18, 23-21 triumph over Jennifer Cayetano.
DLSU 1st doubles duo Danica San Ignacio and Gelli Ramos bested the Morayta-based Shuttlers, Clarissa Pascual and Gretchen Culaste, 21-18, 21-14.
The momentum seemed unstoppable as the tested Calimlim-Bolos dyad overwhelmed FEU’s Mayono and Cayetano’s resistance, 21-14, 19-21, 21-18 before San Ignacio delivered the icing on the cake by routing Pascual in another straight set conquest 21-15, 21-11.
“Masaya saka satisfied sa laro ng both men and women kasi nagbunga ng maganda yung mga sacrifices namin lalo na meron kaming morning training (I am happy and satisfied with the performance of both teams. Our sacrifices and morning trainings really paid-off),” San Ignacio shares.
The top-ranked Green Shuttlers will battle their elimination round tormentors, Ateneo de Manila University, and the Lady Shuttlers had their clash with fourth-runner UE last Sept. 10, to start the Badminton semifinals.
Both squads earned a rightful twice to beat advantage for the semis series.
“Tumaas ang confidence na manalo, wag lang magrelax saka mahirap talunin kapag twice to beat (The team’s confidence to win increased, but still we must not relax and with the twice to beat advantage, they will have a difficult time defeating us in the semis),” Coach Lopez endes.