La Salle’s paddlers clinch consecutive double championships

Entering the UAAP Season 78 Table Tennis Tournament as defending champions, the DLSU Green Paddlers and Lady Paddlers proved that they were the best in the league after emerging as back-to-back champions in their respective divisions. This year’s competition was held at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium last October 17 to 29.

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The Green Paddlers won their third consecutive title, while the Lady Paddlers clinched two straight trophies after a heartbreaking second-place finish two years prior. They are the only teams that were able to clinch both titles for La Salle in a single sport this season.

Table TennisDominant wins allowed the Green Paddlers to finish the first and second rounds of the competition on a high note. They beat the NU Bulldogs, FEU Tamaraws, Ateneo Blue Eagles, UE Red Warriors, and UP Fighting Maroons on either 3-0 or 3-1 scores. They emerged as the top seed of the competition with a 13-1 win-loss record, with the lone loss coming from their first game against the UST Growling Tigers.

Their semifinal game against the NU Bulldogs turned out to be a long and grueling battle. Walden Ledesma and the doubles team of Tarak Cabrido and Edmund Garganian quickly pounced on the attack and gave the Green Paddlers an early two-game lead against the Bulldogs. After NU tied the match series at 2-2, Francis Garganian handed DLSU a 3-2 win and a spot in the finals.

In the finals match, the Green Paddlers clashed with UST, a team that had been their rival for the past few years. Team captain Ledesma, Cabrido, Edmund Garganian, and Francis Garganian managed to bring the Green Paddlers one step closer to the crown after winning Game 1, 3-1. The second finals match was an all-out battle between the two teams, with the match reaching five games. DLSU edged out UST in the end, 3-2, earning their third straight championship.

Ledesma was named Season 78 MVP, while Carlo Mateo was adjudged the UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year.

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The Lady Paddlers had little trouble showing that they were still the team to beat in the competition as they picked up from where they left off in Season 77. DLSU swept through all their assignments in the entire elimination round, proving themselves to be a notch higher than most of their opponents. Due to going undefeated in the entire elimination round, the Taft-based squad was able to clinch a spot in the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage.

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In the finals, La Salle faced the second-seeded FEU Lady Tamaraws, the only team that came close to upending them during the eliminations. The first game ended in a 3-0 sweep for the Lady Paddlers. Hardly breaking a sweat from their first match, they proceeded to beat the Lady Tamaraws, 3-1, in Game 2 to complete the back-to-back championship conquest.

Lady Paddler Yan Lariba was named the season’s Most Valuable Player after another brilliant individual showing wherein she went undefeated in all her matches. She would complete her UAAP career with an unblemished record, not losing to any of her individual opponents. Emy Dael won the Rookie of the Year Award as DLSU swept all of the awards in the competition.

Josef Fuentebella

By Josef Fuentebella

Renz Lucas

By Renz Lucas

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