UAAP: Green Paddlers reign as champions, Lady Paddlers finish second

The DLSU Green Paddlers gave the Lasallian community something to cheer about, winning the UAAP Men’s Table Tennis Tournament by defeating FEU, the team that gave them their lone loss this season.

It was sweet revenge for the Green Paddlers, as they swept their toughest opponents this season to improve from their first-runner up finish last season. The Lady Paddlers on the other hand, were unable to defend their title as they succumbed to UP despite holding a thrice-to-beat advantage.

To advance to the finals, the Green Paddlers had to face a familiar opponent in UST. The Tigers have been a big roadblock to the Green Paddlers’ championship dreams for the past three years. Three years ago, UST swept them in the finals. The year after that, DLSU failed to capitalize on their twice-to-beat-advantage. Last year, the Taft-based squad lost in the finals.

The first match of the day was a quick one as Jerald Cristobal easily swept his assignment to give DLSU their first win of the day. The second matchup was a sweep as well but Men’s MVP Walden Ledesma faced a tough opponent in UST’s Abendan. Facing an early deficit, Ledesma took charge as he limited Abendan to only two points while scoring ten of his own to win the first game, 11-5. Ledesma then grabbed the next two seats easily, 11-4 and 11-6 to come away with a victory for DLSU.

When asked about the the match, team captain Earvin De Pedro immediately shared “Si [Walden] Ledesma, dinominate [niya] yung game”, adding that despite Abendan’s reputation as one of UST’s top aces, Ledesma needed only three games to beat him.

With the task of ending the match on his shoulders, Jet Yatco overcame a slow start to beat UST’s Diaz, in three straight games. Head coach Lauro Crisostomo was pleased with the victory, citing their consistent offense, attention on receiving, and pre-game scouting as keys to their victory.

The next day, in the finals against FEU, the Green Paddlers took a 2-0 lead early in the first match with victories from Ledesma and Cristobal giving the Taft-based squad momentum early in the game. FEU fought back, winning the doubles matchup against Garganian and De Pedro in five sets. With FEU catching up, Yatco finished off his opponet in three sets, giving DLSU a 1-0 series lead and a win away from capturing the crown.

In the second match, Ledesma needed all five sets to beat FEU’s Donaire while Yatco finished off FEU’s Igno in four sets, once again giving DLSU a 2-0 lead. FEU’s tandem of Yap and Dacut won the doubles match, almost swinging things back in the Tamaraw’s favour, but a tough 3-2 win by Cristobal sealed things up for DLSU to give them the championship.

In their only match this week, the Lady Paddlers were rusty as the Lady Maroons swept them in three straight sets. The long layoff had proven troublesome for the Lady Paddlers as they lost their first game, 3-1, with only Ian Lariba coming up with a victory. The second game proved to have the same outcome as DLSU ended up losing again, 3-1, leaving the Lady Maroons a win away from pulling off the tournament’s biggest upset. The third set went down the wire as DLSU and UP split the first two games. The final matchup saw UP’s Maderal beating DLSU’s Galera, completing the sweep and handing UP the crown.

Ledesma came away with MVP honors in the Men’s Division while UST’s John Misal was named Rookie of the year for Season 76. In the Women’s division, UP also swept the awards as Joma Sibal and Nishino Noriko earned MVP and Rookie of the Year honors respectively.

Gio Gloria

By Gio Gloria

Tim Alejandro

By Tim Alejandro

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