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Badminton

CK Clemente rescues UP from UST upset axe

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After missing on the opportunity to put the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on top, team captain CK Clemente delivered in the clutch.

The fifth-year standout fended off John Paul Yabut in the deciding singles match to capture the Diliman-based side’s second straight win at the expense of the University of Santo Tomas Golden Shuttlers, 3-2, Friday morning at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

The Golden Shuttlers got to the board first as Cris Sanchez overwhelmed UP’s co-captain Vinci Manuel in the first singles match. The Golden Shuttler took the 1-0 lead for his squad, finishing off the third-year Maroon, 21-11, 21-14.

The advantage did not last long for UST as the able singles player in JM Bernardo leveled the tie for UP. The second-year cruised to his ninth straight singles win past Joed Reyes after completing a 23-21 comeback in the first set and whitewashing the latter in the second at 21-11.

It looked like the Maroons wrested the advantage after Clemente and Paul Gonzales took the first set of the first doubles match at 21-16. However, the veteran in both Reyes and John Mark Sotea fuelled them to pocket the secobd set at 21-18.

What put them at an even bigger advantage in the decider were the errors piling up for UP. Clemente admitted, “Nung third set, nag-relaxed kami kaya dumami yung errors.” The Maroons could not recover and the Thomasians regained the lead.

Nonetheless, that turned out to be the last growl from the España boys.

Bernardo and last year’s captain Betong Pineda forced the deciding singles match after completely annihilating Kristian Barrios and Juan Miguel Santiago. The two College of Human Kinetics majors secured the match at 21-18, 21-9; thereby, setting up their skipper for the comeback win.

Clemente stormed off the gates and easily took the first game at 21-11. Yabut, taking better control of the shuttle, then forced a deciding set at 21-18. From there, however, the fifth-year Sports Science student wasted no time and slowly got the third set, the match, and the tie at 21-9.

The part-time TVC model shared that prior to the third singles match, he looked on what was needed to be done. “As the captain, tinitignan ko yung dapat mangyari sa future,” Clemente said.

“As the anchor, alam kong nasa likod ko sila, nakasuporta. Kailangan kong manalo, dapat akong manalo para sa team. Kasi kung matatalo kami paano pa yung mga pinaghirapan namin,” he furthered.

And with his band of brothers all standing up and cheering for him, it was just an added motivation for the UP skipper. “Masaya kasi, isang team kami ‘dun. Nakita ko naman kung gaano sila mag-cheer. Nakaka-overwhelm din.”

After shaking off UST’s challenge, the Fighting Maroons (2-1) will take on the dangerous Adamson University Soaring Falcons (0-4) on Saturday at 8am. The hard-luck Golden Shuttlers could regroup before facing the same squad the following day.

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Eyes are dry at the last goodbye: The unbeaten legacy of Bianca Carlos

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There are times when winning a championship isn’t enough to define an athlete. Champions come and go, but only few are capable of leaving an indelible mark on a sport or competition.

The UAAP has seen many teams and athletes achieve this in its storied history. The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles went on to win five straight Men’s Basketball titles from 2008 to 2012, while the Adamson University Lady Falcons recently got their seventh consecutive softball crown last March 2017.

In terms of individual athletes, Ateneo swimmer Jessie Lacuna and De La Salle University table tennis star Yan Lariba not only brought glory to their respective schools — they also represented the Philippines in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

One student-athlete who deserves as much esteem as those legendary teams and individuals is Ateneo Women’s Badminton Team star Maria Ysabel Bianca Carlos.

The St. Paul College of Pasig alumna racked up one gold medal, three silvers, and one bronze finish in five playing years alongside individual gongs.

Perhaps what’s most noteworthy about her, though, is the fact that she has never lost a singles bout in her entire UAAP career.

Suiting Up for the Blue and White


UAAP 80 Womens Badminton - UP def ADMU - Carlos (2)

For Carlos, becoming a Lady Eagle was an easy decision. She narrated, “Parang naging automatic na siya eh. I train under sina coach Kennie and Vic Asuncion in Asuncion Badminton Center. Coach na sila ng Ateneo ever since. Coach Vic was a UP coach. Nung lumipat na siya ng Ateneo, doon na kami nag-graduate from high school, Trixie Malibiran and me so sabay kami pumasok ng Ateneo. Batchmates kami sa training so dun namin sinimulan i-recruit nila coach.”

The Interdisciplinary Student shared that the National University had been interested in getting her services before she entered college back in 2013. Former NU coach Jojo Mance tried to talk Carlos into joining the Lady Bulldogs, but Carlos already knew where she wanted to go.

While the blue chip recruit had no problems adjusting in terms of the sport, she admitted that the UAAP was a wholly different playground from what she was used to. “Different siya in terms of yung sa venue na yung crowd, yung cheering at team event siya. When I play outside of Ateneo, it’s just me. Singles or doubles, hindi siya team event. Yung tournament sa labas it’s just you lang eh, unlike sa UAAP na you’re bringing your whole team and your whole school.”

It turned out to be a glorious Season 76 for Ateneo and Carlos. The Lady Eagles swept both the elimination round and the Finals series against De La Salle to defend their crown, while Carlos was deemed Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player that year.

Carlos reminisced, “Hindi ako super na-pressure (noon) kasi alam ko lahat ng kalaban ko senior na eh. Mas gusto ko yan eh na matatanda ang kalaban tapos bata ako tapos kinakalaban ko sila, tinatalo ko sila. Mas masarap sa feeling. Walang pressure sa akin since bago lang ako sa UAAP.”

Mother Knows Best


uaap-79-womens-badminton-admu-dlsu-carlos-kneel

Season 76 turned out to be the only UAAP title won by Carlos in her Ateneo stint. Ateneo endured three bridesmaid finishes from seasons 77 to 79 at the hands of three-peat champions University of the Philippines, while the recently concluded Season 80 saw the Lady Eagles fall to eventual winners Lady Archers in the semi-finals.

Amidst Ateneo’s consistent podium finishes, though, was the Interdisciplinary Studies student’s spotless singles record. It was as if the Katipunan school was guaranteed one win in every tie because Carlos always delivered.

“Actually hindi ko rin siya ine-expect talaga,” commented the fifth-year student. “Siguro nung mga fourth-year na diyan yung aim mo na wala kang talo. Pero from first year, never kong inexpect talaga because siyempre madaming seniors eh, madaming malakas din so hindi ko siya inexpect.”

Although she was a phenom on the court, Carlos shared that her coaches had never pressured her to go unbeaten in singles bouts during her UAAP run. “Lagi nila sinasabi sa akin na ‘alam naman namin na lagi kang lalaban eh.’ Yun kasi yung attitude na pinasok nila sa akin ever since bata ako na laban ka hanggang sa huli. Whatever happens talaga, laban lang. Puso always.”

While her coaches never pushed her to go unbeaten, Carlos received her marching orders to not lose a singles bout from one of the closest people in her life. “Laging sinasabi ng mom ko na basta don’t drop your singles (match) kahit ano mangyari. Don’t drop your singles. I’m really a singles player talaga eh, never a doubles player.”

In fact, Carlos recounted one story which set her on the way to becoming a titan on the court. “I remember this (incident). Natalo ako eh one time in 2010. Picture-picture kami ng mom ko, chill-chill. Mag-finals na, lalaro na ako. Pinipicturan ako ng mom ko, pose-pose ako. Eh si Gelita Castillo makakalaban ko. Ako yung defending champion pero chill ako sobra. As in tawa ako ng tawa. Pag-laro ko, talo. So after nun pinagalitan ako ng mom ko. Sabi niya, ‘hindi mo na puwede gawin yun.’ Starting nung day na yun, feeling ko totoo na nakakawala siya ng focus ‘pag (relaxed).”

That loss and her mom’s lecture proved to be a blessing in disguise for Carlos, as she has never lost in the 53 singles bouts she participated in for the Lady Eagles in the UAAP.

Down from the Hill


UAAP 80 Women's Badminton (Awarding) - 2nd Runners Up - ADMU

Now that Carlos is done in the UAAP, her main focus is completing her studies. While the veteran lamented the fact that Ateneo had failed to reclaim the crown, she admitted that perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be.

The 22-year-old shared that everything felt surreal to her. “Sobrang bilis! Yun yung una kong inisip after ng awarding. Grabe five years na yun. Limang taon na ako naglaro, hindi ko man lang na-feel masyado.”

Carlos explained that she is still unsure of her future after Ateneo, but admitted that a stint in the national team or the option of competing abroad isn’t out of the question. “Siguro by next year, dun na ako mag-join ng major tournaments.”

Ultimately, Carlos knew what she would miss the most about the UAAP. “Sabi ko kanina mahirap yung adjustment sa crowd pero yun yung ma-mimiss ko. Yung tao, they’re cheering for you. Kasi sa ibang tournaments, sakto lang eh. Your teammates are cheering for you. Ito talagang lahat. Kung sinong dadalhin mo ichi-cheer ka talaga nila (basta galing sa) Ateneo. Iba yung feeling. Mamimiss ko rin i-represent ang Ateneo. Ito talaga yung super dream school ko. You play for your dream school, ang sarap sa feeling.”

Carlos is uncertain about what her legacy is to the Blue and White. Then again, her Season 76 championship and individual accolades, three silver finishes, one bronze medal and — most importantly — that unbeaten singles streak are more than enough to hand her recognition in Ateneo’s fabled sports history.

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Badminton

The Wait is Over: La Salle dethrones UP to regain Women’s Badminton tiara

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It has been eight long years, and finally the UAAP women’s badminton title is back in the school nearest the playing venue.

Returning player Nicole Albo was the heroine, as she pulled through in the deciding match, upending Mary Ann Marañon to claim the crown for the De La Salle University Lady Archers, 3-2, Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

The Taft-based squad ceded the first singles match to Poca Alcala. The reigning MVP played with high intensity despite the challenge of Arianne Rivera, 22-20, 21-18.

Iyah Sevilla showed her resilience this time and fended off the momentum of Marina Caculitan in the following singles match, 20-22, 21-12, 21-18.

With the first doubles match turning crucial, graduating Isay Leonardo just wanted to get it done for the Green and White.

“Yun ‘yung maibabalik mo sa La Salle eh, ‘yung ibigay mo yung best mo sa game,” she said. “Tsaka syempre last ko ng laro sa UAAP.”

With that in mind, Leonardo and partner Albo carved a come-from-behind win past Alcala and Jessie Francisco, 21-23, 21-16, 21-17.

The defending champions, however, extended their reign, as UAAP 77 and 78 Rookies of the Year Marañon and Lea Inlayo quashed Sevilla and Lindsay Tercias in just two sets at 21-16, 21-10.

Battling fatigue and cramps, Albo then rose to the challenge and easily took care of Marañon in the first set of the deciding singles match, 21-11.

The UP co-captain showed some signs of life in the early part of the second set; nonetheless, Albo slowly pulled away before pulling the rag off the Fighting Maroons and sending the Lady Archers to the throne at 21-14.

Leonardo was thrilled to exit the UAAP as a champion and shared that the biggest difference this time was, “Mas ginusto talaga naming manalo.”

That determination succeeded, as eight years of agony have finally ended.

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UP levels series with La Salle to force winner-take-all Tie 3

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The defending UAAP women’s badminton champions University of the Philippines Lady Maroons know what it takes to rise up from a deficit. With their backs against the wall, the Lady Maroons fought for another chance.

With the strength of the surprising win of team captain Marina Caculitan and the awakening of top player Poca Alcala, the reigning three-peat queens subdued the De La Salle University Lady Shuttlers, 3-1, to push for an all-important tie on Saturday.

According to the UP skipper, the situation even motivated them to defend the throne. “Mas tumapang kami, mas naging close yung team.”

But the most important thing the state brought them was, “We learned from our mistakes.”

That learning was evident from the first two singles matches as Alcala and Caculitan shrugged off missed opprtunities from the last tie and took the 2-0 lead this time.

Alcala bamboozled Arianne Rivera in the first set of the opening singles match at 21-9, before fending off the late challenge of the latter in the second at 21-18. The reigning Most Valuable Player showed composure throughout the entire match, bouncing back once she felt Rivera is on a run.

Such composure was also evident in Caculitan’s contest against Iyah Sevilla. After the Maroon seized the initiative in both sets, the junior La Sallian pulled away late in the frames. Nonetheless, Caculitan held on during the rallies and despite going down 16-20 in either games, still pulled through in the end in two 22-20 sets.

Isay Leonardo and Nicole Albo finally took one past the pesky duo of Ann Maranon and Lea Inlayo. The Maroons tried to mount comebacks, but La Salle pocketed the match at 21-19, 21-19.

However, the day really belonged to the defending champs.

Alcala and Jessie Francisco wasted no time and blasted Lindsay Tercias and Sevilla in two quick sets at 21-15, 21-8, to send both teams to a winner-take-all tie on Saturday.

The Lady Maroons and the Lady Shuttlers take to the court one last time on October 21, Saturday, at 1pm, for the right to be named champions of UAAP Season 80 women’s badminton.

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Iyah Sevilla comes alive, puts La Salle up 1-0 against UP

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With momentum on their side, the De La Salle University Lady Shuttlers used it to stun the University of the Philippines in Tie 1 of the UAAP Season 80 women’s badminton Finals.

The Taft-based smashers leaned on the heroics of third-year stalwart Iyah Sevilla to deny the Fighting Maroons the season sweep and make headway in the championship series, Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Nonetheless, it was batchmate Arianne Rivera who made the biggest news of the day, taking down UP’s top singles player Poca Alcala in three sets at 21-16, 12-21, 21-19. The La Salle junior had to crawl back from a huge deficit in the deciding game to complete the upset of the reigning Most Valuable Player.

For her part, fellow national team member Nicole Albo had to fend off a stunner, as she stopped UP team captain Marina Caculitan in the battle of two lefties also in three sets. The returning Lady Shuttler also carved a similar come-from-behind run in the final game. Albo put La Salle up at 2-0 with 21-11, 14-21, 21-19.

Nonetheless, the reiging queens of UAAP badminton would not be swept.

Alcala and partner Jessie Francisco denied Sevilla and Lindsay Tercias the early clincher after pocketing the first doubles match in another three-setter at 21-14, 18-21, 21-8.

What happened next brought life to the huge UP crowd in attendance.

Despite playing under the weather, both Ann Maranon and Lea Inlayo overcame their condition to finish off Albo and Isay Leonardo in just two sets, 21-10, 21-16; which is a total opposite of the same match in the qualifying round.

Before the day, Sevilla had shrugged off previous losses in the recent ties and focused on the day’s task. She, along with her teammates, were set on just taking the games as they came. The third-year La Sallian said, “Mina-mindset lang ng team to enjoy every game. Walang pressure because we came from third [place].”

With that mentality, the Green and White standout needed just two sets to deny former national team colleague Jessie Francisco in two sets, 21-11, 21-17. The win sent La Salle to a win away from winning their first crown since 2009.

Tie 2 is scheduled on Thursday, October 19, at 1pm as the Lady Shuttlers will try to end the series against the Lady Maroons.

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