As a lower seed, pulling off an upset over a more favored opponent in the knockout rounds is a feat that can sum up the highlight of a season. But pulling off multiple upsets requires an elite level of resilience and endurance, something the DLSU Green Paddlers had when they overcame tough odds to finish 2nd in the UAAP Season 79 Table Tennis Tournament.
Entering the competition with a young roster that lost key veterans, the Green Paddlers had mixed results. Although they were able to come away with victories over opponents such as the UP Fighting Maroons and the NU Bulldogs, DLSU could not overcome the efforts of title contenders like the UST Growling Tigers, who exacted revenge on La Salle for having beaten them in last year’s finals.
At the end of the elimination round, their final standing was virtually tied with FEU, UP, and UE, for fourth place in the standings, forcing an extra set of playoff games for the right to face the second-seeded NU Bulldogs. Since UST swept the elimination round, the Final Four moved to the stepladder format, handing La Salle just a small window of opportunity to return to the finals.
It was an uphill climb for the Green Paddlers, as they managed to overcome five knockout matches to book a seat in the finals. Their win over the Bulldogs seen as an immense feat considering NU had a twice-to-beat advantage and DLSU was coming off playing three consecutive knockout matches. Team captain Ralph Nones and Jeremy Ruiz led DLSU through the Cinderella run, with their efforts coming into fruition through their finals matchup with UST.
They spearheaded a roster that had four rookies in Carl Chuaquico, Ermar Eder, Daniel Ocon, and Nathan Siasico, all of whom are expected to be on deck to compete in the following season.
“As a captain, sabi ko lang sa teammates ko [na] magtulungan tayo,” Nones explained prior to Season 79 when asked about what he and the team talked about.
Despite settling for first runner-up, there are still many positives to take away for the young core of the Green Paddlers. Their spectacular run coupled with their offseason preparations can only help them as they aim to take the crown in Season 80.