As cliche as it may sound, you can never count out a champion team.
Photo by Icko de Guzman
The defending UAAP men’s table tennis champions De La Salle University Green Paddlers toppled the ladder and three opponents in three do-or-die ties to keep their title defense alive, Tuesday at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.
With perhaps the greatest Filipino table tennis player, Ian Lariba, in attendance, the DLSU men’s team played inspired game throughout the day.
Green Paddlers dehorn Tamaraws
The rousing day for the Green and White started with a repeat of previous day’s win against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 3-1.
Jeremy Ruiz started off his winning day for La Salle with a four-set win over LJ Villanueva, 11-8, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8 in the first singles match.
FEU then got one back in the second singles match. Abner Osorna waylaid Ermar Eder in straight sets 11-7, 11-5, 11-8, to put the Tams on the board.
That turned out to be FEU’s last match won for the season.
Ralph Nones and Nathan Siasico outlasted John Santiago and Kenth Caballero in the marathon doubles match to put DLSU ahead. The match went the Green Paddlers’ way with the scores at 10-12, 13-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9.
Tarak Cabrido then closed out the morning’s tie with a clean sweep of FEU’s Christian De Guzman, 11-4, 11-6, 13-11, to send the Tams packing as their first victim for the day.
DLSU completes comeback, averts UP season sweep
The turning point perhaps of DLSU’s day is finally winning one against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons this season. And no better time to do it than in the playoffs.
The reigning champs came from behind to deny their Finals opponents from two seasons back a right of passage to the Final Four.
Ruiz continued his winning ways as he upset UP’s senior Ralph Chua in five gruelling sets, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6. One of the remaining three players from last year’s squad, Rivera did not let Chua get control in the deciding set.
The Maroons then snatched the upper hand after taking the second singles and the doubles matches.
Marco Eludo overpowered Eder in four sets, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7, and 12-10. UP captain Dominic Duot and long-time partner Blu Lamayan then edged out Nones and Siasico in five sets, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-13, 11-5.
Cabrido and Daniel Ocon then rescued their title defense with a sweep of the last two singles matches. Cabrido swept Gimo Rivera, 11-8, 11-7, 12-10. Ocon closed out the tie and the win for the Green Paddlers as he routed Hesed Sombilon in four sets, 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, and 11-2.
La Salle blanks UE to complete day’s sweep
Brimming with confidence from getting two wins for the day, the reigning kings of UAAP table tennis made sure the crown will still be defended for another day.
The result: a resounding sweep of the third-seeded University of the East Red Warriors.
Ruiz started the rout with a huge four-set victory over Justin Pacana, 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, and 11-9, in the first singles match.
Then, Eder finally carved a win for the day with a stunning upending of Nestor Estrella Jr., 11-5, 5-11, 14-12, 13-11, in the second singles match. The newbie Green Paddler shook of some error-filled moments to mount the important win.
Nones and Siasico did not let that Eder uprising go to waste as they punctuated DLSU’s run for the day with an 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9 win over Mc Africa and Michael Valdemoro. The DLSU duo actually had two match points in the third set, but could not close out. Nonetheless, the huge lead in the fourth was enough to eventually win the match and the tie.
The stunning run of the defending champions Green Paddlers continues tomorrow Wednesday in the semifinals against the National University Bulldogs. The Bustillos-based crew holds the twice-to-beat advantage against the reigning kings. Tie 1 is scheduled at 9am. If necessary, the do-or-die match up is at 1pm.
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