The DLSU Lady Paddlers settled for first runner-up after suffering back-to-back losses against the UST Golden Tigresses yesterday, October 15, at the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Human Kinetics Gym.
Heading into the championship bout, La Salle won all 14 of their elimination games which placed them at that top of the standings and automatically advanced them to the Finals.
UST, on the other hand, had to face the UP Lady Maroons and FEU Lady Tamaraws in a stepladder semifinals before entering the Finals to challenge the Green-and-White.
Game 1 jitters
The first match point was given to UST after Golden Tigress Sherlyn Gabisay won against Lady Paddler Jhoana Go in four sets, 3-1. Emy Dael would answer back and tie the game at one-all for DLSU through her victory over Danica Alburo in four sets, 3-1.
In the doubles match, which pitted Lady Paddlers Caressha Bernaldez and Ina Co against Golden Tigresses Ciara Derecho and Kathrina Tempiatura, UST obtained the 2-1 match point advantage over the defending champions after four sets, 3-1.
Jannah Romero would tie the match at two apiece by successfully defeating UST’s Kate Encarnacion in four sets despite dropping the first set, 3-1. The deciding match was to be played by Lady Paddler Chantal Alberto and Golden Tigress Shaeena Ronquillo.
In just three sets, 3-0, UST’s Ronquillo outplayed DLSU’s Alberto to win the first game of the Finals and take a 1-0 lead over the Taft-based squad. This placed the Lady Paddlers in a must-win situation for Game 2.
One last stand
With another championship on the line, Season 80’s Most Valuable Player, Dael, rose to the occasion and opened the second game of the championship with a win over Kathrina Tempiatura in four sets, 3-1.
The Golden Tigresses maintained their composure as they went on to the next two matches behind Alburo’s three set victory over Alberto, 3-0, and the doubles contest win of Kathleen Tempiatura and Derecho against Co and Kimberly Sorsogon in four sets, 3-1.
Romero gave La Salle a chance to take the second game of the finals and to extend the series by making quick work of her opponent, Gabisay, in three sets, 3-0, and tying the game two-all.
The last matchup of Game 2 featured Lady Paddler rookie Go playing against Golden Tigress Ronquillo. Both players gave it their all, quickly recovering after dropping the previous set. The intensity of the game reached its peak when Go tied the game, 2-2, at the end of the fourth set.
However, Ronquillo’s relentless offense made Go commit unforced errors, which gave her an early lead in the initial stages of the fifth set. This proved to be the deciding factor as the former defeated the latter, 3-2, en route to the championship and ended the Lady Paddler’s four-year title reign.
During the culmination of the table tennis competition, UST bagged most of the individual awards in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Hailing from the champion teams, Gold Tigress Kathrina Tempiatura was awarded as the Most Valuable Player. Likewise, in the men’s division, Paul Que was the Most Valuable Player, while John Michael Castro was named Rookie of the Year.
DLSU Lady Paddler Jannah Romero was the lone Lasallian who bagged an individual award. Despite the team falling short this season, Romero proved that she had what it takes to become a great table tennis player during her first year in the UAAP, as she earned the title of Rookie of the Year in the women’s division. When asked about how she felt receiving the award, “I’m happy naman po. Di ko na-expect po talaga,” she says.
(I’m happy. I really didn’t expect it.)
Takeaways from the series
Assistant coach Louie Eballa talked about his thoughts on the championship games. He stated that it was a painful experience for the team because it was the only two losses that the Lady Paddlers encountered and these setbacks came in the Finals. He said, “Malungkot din; at [the] same time, meron din tayong learning na makukuha from there, from this loss”.
(It was sad; at the same time, we can learn something from there, from this loss.)
As for Team Captain Kimberly Lumenda’s thoughts on why they lost, she said, “Di naman kumpiyansa, masyado lang siguro na-excite sa championship. We’re going [for] a five-peat dapat, pero naudlot tapos medyo pressured din.”
(It’s not confidence, we were just too excited for the championship. We’re going [for] a five-peat, but we fell short and we felt the pressure, too.)
After exhausting her last year of eligibility, team captain Lumenda has a message for the team—she wants the Lady Paddlers to remember the day they lost to the Golden Tigresses and the feeling of losing in the championship match.
“Di porket natalo, hindi na mababawi. Tandaan nila itong sakit na naramdaman nila para for the next year babawi at babawi sila”, she added.
(Just because we didn’t win doesn’t mean we won’t bounce back. They need to remember this pain they felt to be able to come back next year.)