Lasallians reign in World Table Tennis Tournament

The Philippines now has a new sport to add to its arsenal of winners as the Philippine Women’s Team took home the Division Four championship during the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Table Tennis Team Championships held in Tokyo, Japan. The ITTF or the International Table Tennis Federation handled the event which was held last April 28 to May 5 at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium with more than 200 participating countries.

Two of the three participating members of the women’s team hail from De La Salle University. Alongside Muse Balatbat, Ian Lariba and Jamaica Sy of the DLSU Lady Paddlers put up a show at their division as they won match-for-match en route to the championship. Lariba and Sy led the Lady Paddlers team to an impressive second-place finish during last season’s UAAP tourney.

Team Philippines was a force to reckon with at the start of the tournament as they won all their match-ups during the elimination round, placing number one in the rankings for the Fourth Division. The team never lost a set during the elimination round, posting an unscathed 3-0 record against all of their opponents which included Barbados, Iceland, Bahrain, and Turkmenistan.

At the start of the playoff round, Team Philippines went against South Africa. The Philippines carried their strong start from the elimination round as they swept South Africa, 3-0. Ian Lariba posted a final score of 11-3, 11-6, and 11-5 against South Africa’s Caitlin Lingeveldt. Muse Balatbat finished her matchup with Khanyisile Madlala fairly well with a final score of 11-8, 11-4, and 11-7 while Jamaica Sy gave the finishing touches for the quarter-finals, posting a score of 11-3, 11-13, 11-7, and 11-4 against Jade Sasman to advance to the semi-finals.

Team Philippines met the country of Montenegro during the semi-finals and had a prolonged match-up as Montenegro forced two matches to a fifth set. Muse Balatbat won a highly competitive match-up against Neda Milacic with a final score of 11-8, 11-7, 6-11, 8-11, and 16-14. Ian Lariba, quickly trounced her opponent in the semi-finals, sweeping Suncica Rogic in three sets with a final score of 11-8, 11-6, and 11-5. Jamaica Sy came out big in the third match against Sonja Jankovic, winning in five sets to advance to the finals, 5-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, and 11-5.

The Philippines locked horns with Laos during the finals where they performed a notch higher than their performance against Montenegro. Sweeping all three matches with just one match-up leading to a fifth set, the Philippines successfully clinched the championship in Division Four. Ian Lariba started the finals round with a win against Thiphakone Southammavong, 11-5, 9-11, 11-2, and 11-5. Muse Balatbat had a tight match up against Seangdavieng Douangpanya that led to a fifth set, however, the Lady Paddler prevailed in the end with a final score of 11-13, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, and 11-8. Jamaica Sy came out big once again as she defeated Dalavone Manichanh with a score of 12-14, 11-6, 11-2 and 11-8 to seal the championship bid for the Philippines.

The Philippine Men’s Team, on the other hand, came up short against Sri Lanka during the quarterfinals. With decisive matches favoring Sri Lanka, the said country advanced to the semis to topple Montenegro, 3-2. The men’s team, comprised by Richard Gonzales, Stephen Timson, and Rodel Valle, though, had a remarkable elimination round record, grabbing the number one ranking in Division Four by beating out the teams from Peru, Mauritius, Angola, Mongolia, and Bahrain.

Dan Jerusalem

By Dan Jerusalem

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