Both the DLSU Green Jins and Lady Jins finished in third place in the UAAP Season 78 Taekwondo Championship that was held at the Blue Eagle Gym in Ateneo de Manila University. The tournament that concluded last Friday, October 23, saw La Salle finishing with identical 4-2 win-loss records in both the Men’s and Women’s divisions.
The Green Jins went to great lengths to reclaim their podium finish after concluding last season’s tournament in fourth place. The Lady Jins, on the other hand, fell one step down the podium from last year’s second place finish as they claimed the third spot.
“It was very challenging but everyone played their respective roles in helping the team succeed,” said graduating Green Jin Benjamin Sembrano, who was looking to focus on playing for the national team.
Back to the podium
The Green Jins entered the final match day boasting three wins against rivals FEU, NU, and UST, while having only one loss after succumbing to UE. Kyle Arsenal opened the final match day with a win by sudden death but the team dropped its remaining match-ups, faltering to UP, 6-1. The Taft-based team went on to bounce back against archrivals ADMU with a 5-2 win behind shutout victories from Arsenal (8-0) and Alfritz Arevalo (16-0) to clinch third place.
Taekwondo powerhouse UST once again reclaimed the top spot in the tournament after posting a 5-1 win-loss record. Interestingly, the only loss dealt to the España-based team was courtesy of La Salle. UST’s Joaquin Mendoza was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while DLSU’s Arsenal took Rookie of the Year honors.
A step back
The Lady Jins split their two remaining assignments with a 4-3 victory over UP and a 7-0 loss to UST. The team finished the season in third place behind UST and first-time champions, UE, both of whom handed La Salle its two losses in the tournament.
Already sweeping the tournament with a 6-0 record, UE went on to clinch the individual awards as well, with Karen Celis and Baby Jessica Canasal taking the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards, respectively.
In Poomsae, the UST and UP Jins came in at first and second place, respectively, as DLSU rounded out the top three with another third-place finish. Veterans Rinna Babanto and Raphael Mella once again displayed outstanding performances as they combined accuracy and grace in their routines.
Though two places short of a championship, the future is bright for De La Salle taekwondo. Coming into the tournament with a rookie-laden squad, the inexperienced Jins still managed to finish at the podium. “Our team had a lot of rookies this year and I’m looking forward to next year,” second-year welterweight Kyle Uy said.
Moreover, the appointment of former Green Jin Japoy Lizardo as an assistant coach will further improve the Jins’ performance for seasons to come. “[Mukhang] makakatulong sa’min yung experience niya at mga natutunan niya dati,” head coach Roberto Cruz said on Lizardo’s impact on the team.
The three bronze finishes proved to be valuable for the General Championship (GC) race as well, as La Salle’s Jins garnered a total of 30 points, keeping DLSU ahead in first place with a total of 143 points. As of press time, UST and UP trail La Salle in the GC race with 141and 121 points, respectively.
Up next for the Jins will be the Smart Philippine Taekwondo League in November. “We’re the defending champions and we’re not going to take it easy,” team captain Pogz Jazmines said.