Yesterday, November 18, at the ADMU Blue Eagle Gym, both the Green Paddlers and the Lady Paddlers endured crucial matches to determine their placement for the Final Four.
The Green Paddlers showed their composure by winning both games, solidifying their spot at third after sweeping both the ADMU Blue Eagles and the UE Red Warriors, 3-0. Meanwhile, The Lady Paddlers won their first game of the day by dominating the UP Lady Maroons, 3-0, but eventually fell to the FEU Lady Tamarraws by a close margin, 3-2. Consequently, the Lady Paddlers had to battle it out with the Lady Eagles for the second spot in the standings, which entails a twice-to-beat advantage come the Final Four. The team from Taft ultimately fell short with a 3-0 scoreline to end their day.
To start off the day, the Green Paddlers first faced the ADMU Blue Eagles. Koby Cabrido garnered the first match point by taking control of his matchup against Ateneo’s Bailey Acidera, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2. The dominance of the Green-and-White continued as team captain Tarak Cabrido took charge and emerged victorious against Mark Parman of ADMU in four sets, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, allowing the Taft-based squad to gain a 2-0 match point advantage.
To finish off the victory, the duo of Christian Crisostomo and Daniel Ocon performed well as they swept ADMU’s Jamie De Asis and Carlo Chua in three sets, 11-8, 13-11, 11-6 to obtain the winning match point for La Salle.
In the afternoon, the Green Paddlers faced a familiar foe who had outplayed them in their first meeting. However, the Green-and-White showed their progress this season by playing better and avenging themselves against the UE Red Warriors. K. Cabrido once again won the first match point for DLSU as he outlasted UE’s Sandro Cortez in four sets, 11-7, 13-11, 8-11, 11-4.
After failing to win against Justin Pacana in their first meeting, Green Paddler Vince Remitio was able to overcome the Red Warrior this time in a quick three-set encounter, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10, to give his team the 2-0 match point lead. The match was finished by the same duo of Crisostomo and Ocon, defeating UE’s Kevin Muriel and Kyle Lanzaderas in a three-set affair, 11-8, 13-11, 11-6.
After winning their last two games, the Green Paddlers were able to finish their elimination round with a statement by dominating both affairs. T. Cabrido credited the team’s mentality to end the eliminations in convincing fashion, “Siguro ‘yung mindset lang namin kanina na kailangan pang i-push, kailangan talagang kada-puntos ay paghirapan, hindi ‘yung nagsasayang lang ng puntos. Kasi ‘yung mga kasama ko, alam ko [rin] na gutom silang manalo—since last year fifth place kami, naghahabol din kami para makapasok sa Final Four…Sa mga ganitong competition, kailangan [mong] ipakita sa kalaban mo na gutom ka at gusto mong manalo.”
(Our mindset earlier was to push ourselves to do our best. We needed to work hard to earn each point, instead of wasting our opportunities. I also know that my teammates are hungry to win this year—since we finished fifth place last year, we are really chasing after a spot in the Final Four…In competitions like these, you have to show your opponents that you are always motivated and ready to win.)
Advantage to disadvantage
For the first match of the day, the Lady Paddlers got the dub over the UP Lady Maroons, 3-0. Jhoanna Go started the sweep with a scoreline of 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 over UP’s Pau Cabrera. DLSU’s Rein Teodoro then bested Maroon Anna Royeca, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7. For the final matchup against UP, Lasallian duo Kimberley Sorongon and Jasmine Tan put an exclamation point on Fellane Labian and Lyra Duro’s attempt, 11-8, 11-7, 13-11.
Morale was high after the first set of matches, but when the Lady Paddlers faced the FEU Lady Tamaraws, it was a different story. As DLSU’s Crystal Canoos and FEU’s Rikki Prosia battled it out, neither of them wanted to surrender. Both competitors endured a five-set match, 11-9, 8-11, 5-11, 11-7, 12-10, with Canoos coming out on top, 3-2.
In the next head-to-head, Teodoro went up against Tamaraw Liezel Cañada. Winning only the second set for La Salle, it was all Cañada from there on, as she brought the series score to an even 1-1 then claimed the victory afterward, 6-11, 12-10, 7-11, 6-11.
For the third match point, it was the doubles duel between the pair of Tan and Sorongon and FEU’s Danah Cruz and Camille Mutuc. Once again, only the second set was in favor of the Green-and-White, while the Yellow-and-Green dominated the rest of the affair, 8-11,11-9, 11-13, 7-11.
In a must-win scenario for the Green-and-White, Go took on Tamaraw Reigan Gabutin. It was all Go for the first two sets, besting the foe, 11-5 and 11-6, but gave up the third set to FEU, 11-6. The fourth set raised the intensity of the matchup as the players went back-and-forth, tying at 10-10. Go then pulled through with enough firepower to finally take command, 12-10, evening the series score to 2-2.
However, the Lady Tamaraws rallied back in the next matchup as FEU’s Chachay Yu bested La Salle’s Kyla Bernaldez in four sets, 11-6, 11-5, 11-13, 7-11.
With the loss, the Lady Paddlers ended the eliminations round in a tie at second place with archrivals ADMU Lady Eagles, leading to a do-or-die match with the semi-finals twice-to-beat advantage at stake.
However, it was not to be for the Lady Paddlers as they got swept in the tiebreaker. La Salle’s Teodoro faltered in a close, back-and-forth affair against Ateneo’s Kaela Aguilar, 7-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 9-11. Despite winning the first set, Bernaldez ultimately succumbed to Lady Eagle Angela Calvo in four sets, 13-11, 7-11, 8-11, 5-11. Lastly, the duo of Tan and Sorongon were unable to stop the unwavering force of Ateneans Hellari Calvo and Geque Carado.
Moving up the ranks
With the Green Paddlers winning both their games yesterday, they now head to the Final Four stage of the competition. Last Sunday, team captain T. Cabrido said that he was worried about the team’s standing before coming into yesterday’s game, but with two more wins to their name, they have firmly secured the third spot in the standings, a place ahead of AdU. With the stepladder format for the playoffs, DLSU will be facing Adamson to earn a move up the ladder and contend against second-placers NU Bulldogs, who have a twice-to-beat advantage, while the unbeaten UST Growling Tigers await atop the table to see who is deemed worthy to face them.
Moving forward, T. Cabrido hopes that each member of his team would perform well in the Final Four, “Siguro, gusto [kong] bawa’t isa sa amin ay mag-step up—hindi lang isa o dalawang player, gusto [kong] lahat mag step up… Sana tuloy-tuloy pa rin ‘yung morale namin na pataas nang pataas.”
(I want each player to step up—not just one or two players, but all of us…I hope our morale will continue to increase for the upcoming games.)
As the Lady Paddlers failed to earn the twice-to-beat advantage, they fell to third with ADMU ahead of them with the advantage. Despite this, Lady Paddlers captain Chantal Alberto expressed, “I’m still proud [because the team] still fought. I think the little things, like maraming sabit at edgeball, [are] very crucial. I think ‘di lang talaga namin araw today...I have a lot of faith in my teammates—we just have to rest and reset, 0-0 mindset. We have to fight for each point; we can’t be complacent now.”
(I think the little things, the net hits and edgeballs, [are] very crucial. I think today was simply not our day.)
Alberto further encouraged the team, “You guys have the heart of the champion. You just have to believe in yourselves…Despite the circumstances [of not having the twice-to-beat advantage], I know that we can do it.”
Hopes are high for the Green and Lady Paddlers to bring home the title. The semi-finals of the competition will start today, November 19, at the same venue; the Green Paddlers will go up against the AdU Soaring Falcons while the Lady Paddlers will again face the ADMU Lady Eagles, both at 9 am.