Earlier today at Ateneo de Manila University’s Blue Eagle Gym, the DLSU Green Paddlers and Lady Paddlers opened their Season 82 campaigns with contrasting results.
The Green Paddlers gave it their all, but ultimately fell short as they dropped their games against the UST Growling Tigers and the UE Red Warriors both in five matches, 3-2. Conversely, the Lady Paddlers managed to defeat the FEU Lady Tamaraws and the ADMU Lady Eagles in five matches, 3-2.
Coming up short
In their first match, the Green Paddlers encountered the UE Red Warriors, serving everyone with a close contest to start off the day. Team captain Tarak Cabrido dropped the opening match point after close sets, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 11-5, 6-11. His brother Koby, however, went on to grab the first match point for the Green Paddlers via an 11-6, 11-9, 11-5 dominant scoreline.
Meanwhile, the duo of Christian Crisostomo and Nathan Siasico were unable to gain a match point after dropping the doubles contest in four sets, 7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 6-11. Marwin Eder then kept the team afloat by garnering the game-tying match point, 10-12, 8-11, 11-3, 14-12, 11-3. However, the Green-and-White failed to close out the game during the final set after Vince Remitio’s hard-fought encounter with UE’s Justin Pacaña, 11-6, 5-11, 12-14, 9-11.
In the afternoon, the Green Paddlers faced the UST Growling Tigers. Determined to defend their title this season, the Growling Tigers showed their championship DNA through a dominant start. Green Paddler Josiah Espinosa experienced John Castro’s onslaught firsthand, 11-6, 11-9, 12-10. K. Cabrido’s effort was not able to tie the game after failing to top UST’s Alvin Sevilla after a one-sided set, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8.
After trailing 2-0 in the match, the Green Paddlers had a mountain to climb after the stellar performance shown by the Growling Tigers. The Taft-based squad took on the challenge and went on a run of their own, which was started by Crisostomo’s performance to secure the team’s first match point over the Growling Tigers, 13-11, 9-11, 11-5, 3-11, 11-7. With the game on the line, T. Cabrido showed his experience by winning a grueling five-set match, 9-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, which allowed the Green-and-White to stay alive in the game.
The team captain recalled his thoughts during the match, ”Kapag natalo ako doon sa set, matatalo na team ko. Last year ko na rin [maglaro], kaya sinusubukan ko yung best ko para manalo yung team. Mindset ko ay manalo para sa team; second nalang yung para sa sarili ko.”
(Had I lost that set, our team would have lost the match. It’s also my last year playing, which is why I’m trying my best to help the team win. My mindset is to win the game for the team rather than to win my matchup for myself.)
In the do-or-die set, Eder was determined complete DLSU’s impressive comeback—which would have led the Green Paddlers to their first victory this season—but ultimately came up short, 5-11, 13-11, 9-11, 8-11.
The Green Paddlers may have dropped both games, but they showed great character by putting up a close fight in both matches. Co-captain Daniel Ocon shared his thoughts on the team’s performance today, “For me, maganda ‘yung pinakita ng team. Sa first game versus UE, naiintindihan ko naman na nag-aadjust pa ‘yung players sa maraming bagay. Despite sa mga ganoon, pinush naman namin ang isa’t isa na gawin ang best namin.”
(For me, the team performed well. During our first game versus UE, I understand that the players are still adjusting to a lot of different things. Despite that, we pushed each other to do our very best today.)
The first game of the season for the Lady Paddlers was against the Lady Tamaraws. DLSU’s Rein Teodoro drew first blood after overpowering Rikki Prosia in three sets, 11-3, 11-9, 11-8, and gave La Salle a 1-0 match point advantage over FEU. Lady Paddler Crystal Canoos nearly won the second game, looking to accomplish a comeback win over Reigan Gabutin after being down two sets early in the match. The Lasallian came close, with a final scoreline of 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, but Gabutin had weathered the storm to give FEU their first match point of the game.
The Green-and-White went up 2-1 in the game following a 3-1 victory by the duo composed of Jasmine Tan and Kimberly Sorsogon against Lady Tamaraws Danah Cruz and Gremarie Amata, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7. With the game in favor of the Taft-based squad, Jhoana Go looked to close out the contest by beating the Morayta-based squad’s Leizel Cañada, but the game was forced to a deciding fifth match after Go conceded in four sets, 12-10, 5-12, 13-15, 8-11.
The final set to determine which team would get their first win of the season had Lady Paddler co-captain Caressha Bernaldez face off against Lady Tamaraw Chachay Yu. Maintaining her composure, Bernaldez triumphed over Yu in four sets, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3, 11-6, and gave the Lady Paddlers their first win in the tourney.
The team had little time to celebrate, however, as their next competition was at 1 pm and against the ADMU Lady Eagles. Canoos struggled against ADMU’s Kaela Aguilar as the Lady Paddler lost in three sets, 3-11, 7-11, 8-11, surrendering the first match point to Ateneo. La Salle managed to tie the game at one apiece with a five-set win by Teodoro over Lady Eagle Ann Borbon, 13-11, 4-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-6.
The third match was another five-set thriller with Tan and Sorsogon emerging victorious, despite initially being down 2-1 against ADMU’s Uy and Kath Bulaqueña, 8-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9. This gave DLSU a chance to secure their second victory in the tournament.
In the fourth match, Bernaldez was completely outgunned by Lady Eagle Ana Calvo as the Lady Paddler succumbed to her opponent in three sets, 6-11, 2-11, 6-11. The burden of playing the decisive fifth set fell on the shoulders of Go and Lady Eagle Geque Carado. Go managed to defeat Carado after outplaying her in three sets, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4, clinching the Taft-based squad’s second straight victory in the tournament.
Winning back-to-back games that went to five matches each is challenging for any team. To keep the team afloat, team captain Chantal Alberto told her teammates to enjoy the game. “I want them to be able to bring out what they practice throughout the year, kasi so many sacrifices [were made]—halos lahat kami may sakit kung ano [at] saan,” she added.
(I want them to be able to bring out what they practice throughout the year, because so many sacrifices [were made]—almost everyone is experiencing some type of ache somewhere in their body.)
Onto the next game
After both close games today for each division, coach Lauro Crisostomo shared his reflection on each team’s overall performance. “Men’s team, medyo malas. ‘Yung mga talo namin puro 2-3, puro sobrang dikit…Kung minsan sobrang pressure kaya pagdating ng endgame, bumibitaw.”
(For the men’s team, their games were unfortunate; our losses were all close with a 3-2 match score…The pressure got to the players in the end, so they were unable to close out the decisive sets.)
Crisostomo also hopes that the team adjusts accordingly, stressing that the players themselves are the ones who know what they have to change “skill-wise and mentally”.
T. Cabrido shared his insights on what the team’s mindset should be heading into tomorrow’s set of games. “After nung two games kanina, doon namin narealize na kaya namin manalo. Sinabi ko lang sa team na kalimutan lang ang mga mistakes kanina dahil ibang araw at laro na bukas.”
(It was only after those two games earlier that we realized that we can win. I told the team that we shouldn’t dwell on our mistakes earlier because tomorrow is another day.)
Despite attaining two wins in the first day, Alberto cautions against becoming “complacent”, explaining, “We have this thing called ‘0-0 lagi. Walang kumpyansa.’ I want them to keep [in mind] na bilog [ang] bola and anything can happen.”
(We have this saying, ‘Always think the scoreline is at 0-0. Do not be overconfident.’ I want them to keep in mind that anything can happen during the games.)
Both the Green and Lady Paddlers will be playing again tomorrow, November 9, at the same venue, with the former facing the ADMU Blue Eagles at 8 am and the AdU Soaring Falcons at 1 pm, while the latter will battle it out against the UP Lady Maroons at 8 am and the NU Lady Bulldogs at 1 pm.