UAAP badminton: UP sweeps UE in title bid opener

MANILA, Philippines – UAAP Season 81 men's badminton runner-up University of the Philippines (UP) set the tone to its title bid, dominating University of the East (UE) in its season opener, 5-0, Wednesday, September 18 at the Centro Atletico Badminton Center in Quezon City.

Captain JM Bernardo sparked the rout with a two-setter over Edward Adriano, 21-11, 21-6, before rookie Kim Ga-an scored a come-from-behind win against Angelo David in the decider, 19-21, 21-16, 21-15.

The Fighting Maroons then clinched the tie after the duo of Michael Clemente and Vinci Manuel subdued Christian Garcia and Khristian Reyes, 21-13, 21-10, in the first doubles match.

Young guns Jason Vanzuela and Harvey Tungul, and Season 81 Rookie of the Year Kyle Legazpi, took the last two matches to complete the sweep for UP.

"Nag-set kami ng goal this season na gustong bumawi lahat. Gusto naming makuha yung championship," said Bernardo.

"Natutuwa ako sa performance ng team. Nagawa namin yung pinaghandaan namin. Yung tinraining namin lumabas kanina." 

(We set a goal this season that we want to make up for our failure to cop the championship last season. We want to win the championship. I'm happy with the team's performance. We were able to execute what we've prepared for. What we've trained for came in full show.) 

De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University joined UP as opening day victors after also carving out 5-0 sweeps of Adamson University and University of Santo Tomas (UST), respectively.

Now in La Salle, former Blue Eagles Jan Mangubat and Hanz Bernardo were triumphant in their UAAP comebacks, capped by their tie-clinching win in the doubles over Kevin Fabros and David Libanan, 21-17, 21-18.

Mangubat fended off Elbren Concha in the first singles match at 15-21, 21-15, 21-10. Andrew Pineda put La Salle at 2-0 after the sweep of Fabros in the following singles match at 21-13, 21-16.

On the other hand, Ateneo leaned on the twin victories of senior Keoni Asuncion and rookie Bryan Bernardo to barge into the win column.

On the distaff side, national team standout Sarah Barredo steered the National University (NU) to a comfortable win over Adamson University, 5-0.

The top rookie of Season 81 opened the session with a 22-minute demolition of Jhay Anne Macabenta at 21-1, 21-5, before teaming up with Jiselle Capillo in the first doubles match to topple Ann Magallanes and Clydel Pada, 21-9, 21-13.

Capillo earlier put the Lady Bulldogs at a comfortable 2-0 advantage after taking down Pada also in just two games, 21-13, 21-19.

Despite losing Thea Pomar to graduation, Barredo believes they still have what it takes to make another Final Four run.

"Yung mga pumalit is malalakas din sila and nag-train sila sa Indonesia bago mag-start yung season," revealed Barredo. 

(The ones that replaced the graduates are also strong and they trained in Indonesia before the start of the season.)

Raring to continue their Finals streak, the shorthanded UP also carved a 5-0 sweep over UE.

Jaja Andres and Aldreen Concepcion pounced on their opponents, before captain Pauline Santos and Tricia Opon waxed hot in the second set to clinch the tie.

Andres took down Justine Amposta in 16 minutes at 21-6, 21-8, in the first singles match. Concepcion on the other hand swept Graziel Cabriga, 21-8, 21-15, to put the Fighting Maroons up at 2-0. Santos and Opon then pummeled Kessara Palot and Patrice Reyes in second set at 21-12 after surviving a 23-21 opener.

La Salle joined in the sweep party as they also dominated UST, 5-0.

Despite missing the services of UAAP Season 80 Most Valuable Player Nicole Albo, the Lady Shuttlers leaned on graduating captain Iyah Sevilla to deny the Lady Tiger Shuttlers of the upset. –