UAAP: Green, Lady Paddlers end first round on high note

The DLSU Lady Paddlers, who are the defending UAAP champions, currently lead the pack heading into the second round of UAAP 76 by coming up with a spotless record last weekend in the Blue Eagle Gym. With only seven teams in the tournament, the Lady Paddlers have earned themselves a bye for the morning games, giving them the edge of being fresh heading into their first matchup against FEU.

Meanwhile, hoping to improve from their runner-up finish last season, the Green Paddlers finished the first round with only one loss, a feat that keeps their title hopes very much alive. With the competition being as open as ever, the Green Paddlers came away with a record that puts them above the rest of the tough competition after the opening round.

“Sa ngayon, FEU,” says the head coach of both teams, Lauro Crisostomo, when asked about his wards’ toughest assigments. “Actually ang inaabangan namin sa ngayon, itong FEU, UST, at yung kanina UE.”

The Green Paddlers started their season on a high note, as they swept UE 3-0 thanks to the efforts of Jet Yatco, Walden Ledesma, and the tandem of Earvin de Pedro and Caraganan. Yatco easily defeated UE’s Vasquez, 3-0, while Ledesma, de Pedro and Caranganan needed all five sets to finish off their opponents.

“Panalo tayo 3-0 pero medyo pahirapan pero nakikita ko sa mga players ngayon [na] meron silang nilalabas at ipinipakita nila yung pinagpractisan pa namin,” Crisostomo admits. “Medyo nasa adjustment [phase] kami, lalo na sa doubles.”

Their second opponent, the NU Bulldogs, tied the series at one apiece before the Green Paddlers took over the last two games to come out with a 3-1 series victory. Yatco once again came up with a 3-0 victory to open the contest. Edmund Garganian, on the other hand, tried to come back from a 2-1 deficit but eventually succumbed to his opponent, 3-2. The tandem of Kenneth Yu and de Pedro swept the doubles game, 3-0, and Walden Ledesma sealed things up for the Green Paddlers with a 3-0 sweep.

The Lady Paddlers had a strong start to their series against FEU, but struggled in the middle of the match before eventually finishing their opponents off with a score of 3-2. Racing to a 2-0 series lead courtesy of wins from Jamaica Sy and Ira Lariba, DLSU lost their succeeding doubles match and the singles match. With their spotless slate in the balance, Gamilla came away with a 3-1 win to give the Lady Paddlers their first victory of the season. Later in the day, the Lady Paddlers defeated NU 3-1 to earn their second win in as many outings.

The Green Paddlers were dealt their first loss of the season at the hands of one of the top contenders, FEU, 3-2. After racing to a 2-0 series lead thanks to victories from Ledesma and Yatco, DLSU lost their last three matches to give themselves their only blemish so far this season.

When asked on what it takes for them to get to the championship, Crisostomo preached focus and composure. “Kakayanin yan. Kakayanin yan. Basta mabuo yung loob ng mga bata at tsaka kailangan lang talaga focused sila tsaka wag lang matakot.”

Gio Gloria

By Gio Gloria

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