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Asuncion-Robles hopes to bring Ateneo back to badminton glory

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Ateneo de Manila University head coach Kennie Asuncion-Robles is one of the most prominent figures in Philippine badminton having won multiple medals as a player and coach. In the UAAP, Asuncion-Robles has steered the Blue and White to four badminton Championships. Two championships each for the Men’s and Women’s tournaments. UAAP Season 76 was a banner year for her and ADMU as they won both tournaments during that period.

Ateneo wasn’t able to defend their double badminton championships the following season. The Blue Eagles were eliminated by their counterparts from DLSU during the post-season and eventually finished third while the Lady Eagles succumbed to UP in the finals.

Now in Season 78, Ateneo is in the midst of a rebuilding year with the Blue Eagles fielding a lot of rookies and the Lady Eagles losing a couple of key players themselves. Nevertheless, Asuncion-Robles’ instructions for her players are quite simple. She wants them to go for the win every time. Well I always tell them naman, “basta you give it your all.” When you’re there it’s important na parang first and foremost, let’s not label people. Let’s not think na, heto national team ‘to pareho, etc. Let’s play them as though no labels then let’s give it our all. If the opportunity comes, let’s take it.

After the last elimination round, both Ateneo teams finished third in the standings, which leads to a playoff match against the fourth placers to advance to the next stage of the step-ladder format. “Happy nga kami, kasi ang initial target is to be in the top four. So we’ve made it into the top four. Happy kami with that. Of course we want a little more. We’ll do our best. We’ll see if God permits”, says Asuncion-Robles.

The last ties for both teams were against their opposites from UP. The Blue Eagles narrowly beat the Fighting Maroons 3-2 while the Lady Eagles lost a close one to the Lady Maroons 2-3.

Amidst the Blue Eagles going up against the Fighting Maroons once again in the Final Four, Asuncion-Robles feels that her men dealt a blow to UP’s psyche. “I think in a sense the players feel more confident with their games so kumbaga nakalaro sila kanina, naramdaman nila sa opponents nila kung anong kailangang gawin, kung anong pwedeng gawin. So I think it’s a good thing, a good advantage.

 

When it comes to the Lady Eagles, the multi-decorated coach shares her joy in watching her ladies almost prevent a UP sweep. She believes that the loss was a moral victory for the Lady Eagles. “I’m very proud of the girls kasi each game talaga, they really fought hard for it. I was telling them, I’m proud of their games today. We just need to make some improvements or adjustments then I think the next time I hope we can face them, mas okay ang results.

 

As noted above, the Blue Eagles will square off against UP while the Lady Eagles shall face FEU on October 7, 2015 in the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall. Whoever wins both ties will earn the right to face DLSU who has a twice-to-beat advantage for a place in the finals of both tournaments. NU (Men’s) and UP (Women’s) await in the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage should Ateneo make it.

 

Not that the permutations faze Asuncion-Robles. I think it’s my nature to always feel challenged. Whatever situation I’m given, I always take it as a challenge na maybe there’s something to prove here. I always tell my players na parang you know there’s a reason why the situation is like this so maybe it’s for you guys to step up. You have to step up. We cannot expect a certain number of players to actually win it.”

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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