Yesterday, November 16, at the ADMU Blue Eagle Gym, both the Green and Lady Paddlers split their games, recording a win and a loss each. The Green Paddlers are still on track for a spot in the Final Four, after crushing the FEU Tamaraws, 3-0, and suffering a 3-0 defeat to the NU Bulldogs. The Lady Paddlers, on the other hand, retained hold over second place in the standings as they triumphed over the AdU Lady Falcons, 3-0, but bowed to defending champions UST Golden Tigresses, 3-1.
Battling for a Final Four appearance
The Green Paddlers were up against the FEU Tamaraws in their morning matchup. La Salle was off to a good start, taking the first match point after a four-set victory by Koby Cabrido over FEU’s Le Jay Villanueva, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6.
In the next match, Team captain Tarak Cabrido remained focused despite conceding the first set, and mounted a comeback win against Tamaraw Hensford Sidayon in four sets, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-9. This gave another match point in favor of La Salle, offering the opportunity to close out the game in the next matchup.
Afterward, the duo of Green Paddlers Christian Crisostomo and Daniel Ocon dueled with FEU’s Marial Jumuad and Ken Oblena, who were determined to extend the game. Crisostomo and Ocon managed to fend off their opponents and took the match for the Taft-based squad in four sets, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3. The 3-0 sweep allowed the Green Paddlers to clinch their fifth win of the tournament.
Looking to win back-to-back games and secure a spot in the Final Four, the Green Paddlers competed against the NU Bulldogs in the afternoon. Marwin Eder was unable to take the first match point for the Green-and-White as he succumbed to NU’s Francis Bendebel in four sets, 3-11, 5-11, 11-8, 9-11.
Despite Green Paddler Josiah Espinosa’s valiant effort, the NU Bulldogs secured the second match point over DLSU following a four-set loss at the hands of Rill Ramiro, 15-13, 8-11, 10-12, 10-12. With a 0-2 match point disadvantage and their backs against the wall, Crisostomo and Ocon looked to extend the game as they faced Bulldogs Harold Celeridad and Franz Mogol. It did not go in favor of the Green-and-White, however, as they were overpowered by their opponents in three sets, 7-11, 6-11, 8-11.
Earning it back
The Lady Paddlers started the day on a high note as they earned a win against the AdU Lady Falcons. During the first match, DLSU’s Rein Teodoro triumphed over AdU’s Mikay Ricanor in three sets, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7.
In the next match, Lasallian Jhoanna Go faced Lady Falcon Nicole Dave, hoping to increase her side’s lead to 2-0 against Adamson. However, it did not start out positively for DLSU as Go surrendered the first set, 11-6. However, that was the only set handed to Dave as the tables quickly turned in favor of Go. She finished the remaining three sets by besting her opponent with identical 11-6 scores in each set.
Running with the 2-0 lead, the Lady Paddlers were eager to finally close the door on the Lady Falcons. The duo of Lady Paddlers Kimberly Sorongon and Jasmine Tan took on Kris Romaguera and Mary De Guzman of Adamson. After a three-set victory,11-4, 11-7, 18-16,the Lady Paddlers kept Adamson at bay with a final match score of 3-0.
The stakes were raised during the afternoon matchup as the Lady Paddlers went up against the UST Golden Tigresses, who are looking to defend their title. Go was able to give the Lady Paddlers the start they wanted, as she claimed La Salle’s first match point, defeating Shaeena Ronquillo in four sets, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7.
Afterward, DLSU was unable to bypass the España-based squad for the rest of the game. The face-off between La Salle’s Teodoro and UST’s Sherlyn Gabisay ended with a scoreline of 9-11, 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, in favor of Gabisay.
The duo of Sorongon and Tan tried to swing the momentum back to the Taft-based squad upon facing the UST duo of Kathleen Temperatura and Leigh Villanueva. It was a grueling affair for both duos as they did not want to go down without a fight. In a match of five sets, the Green-and-White were overpowered by the Black-and-Gold, 12-10, 11-9, 12-14, 4-11, 8-11.
As UST was closing in on DLSU, La Salle’s Caressha Bernaldez was intent on keeping her team alive. In the five-set match against UST’s Danica Alburo, Bernaldez got off to an explosive start, claiming the first two sets, 11-6, 11-7, and looking poised to take a point back for her side.
However, the Lasallian could not hold off Alburo from bouncing back to claim the win for UST in the remaining three sets,12-14, 5-11 9-11, forcing the Taft-based squad to absorb the 3-1 match loss.
“We need to work on our end game. We were already there. We just had to put [UST] away for another set, but we were not able to deliver,” Lady Paddlers team captain Chantal Alberto explained that she had really wanted to win against the Golden Tigresses, considering how close the team had come to earning the victory.
Alberto remained optimistic despite the loss, saying that it will serve as a wake-up call for the team to perform better in the remaining games in the second round of eliminations, “We have to be hungrier with each and every game if we want to make it to the championship. We have to be more aggressive, more than ever, especially after today.”
As for the Green Paddlers, T. Cabrido commended the team’s performance for their convincing win against FEU and that the team fell short in their disappointing loss to NU. With only four games left in the elimination round, the burden is on the team to win most of the games in order to advance to the playoffs stage. T. Cabrido, however, reminded the team to just enjoy the game—to bring out their best as well as not be intimidated by the pressure.
Both teams will return to the same venue and resume action today, November 17, with the Green Paddlers playing against the UP Fighting Maroons at 8 am and the AdU Soaring Falcons at 1 pm. Meanwhile, the Lady Paddlers will look to solidify their hold on their second place standing in the tourney as they face the NU Lady Bulldogs at 8 am and UE Lady Warriors at 1 pm.