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Beach Volleyball

Buytrago, Requinton back on opposing sides after successful NT stint

When rivalries turn into partnerships, especially for something way bigger than themselves, it usually brings out the best in both parties.

And none bigger than when two people do it for the honor of the country they represent.

Such as the story of two young stalwarts in Philippine beach volleyball Jaron Requinton of the University of Santo Tomas and James Buytrago of National University.

Back in Season 82, the then previous year’s Rookie of the Year Requinton and his new partner — eventual Most Valuable Player Rancel Varga — had to deal with NU’s senior James Natividad and the talented rookie Buytrago to open UST’s title defense. Eventually, the Tiger Spikers emerged with a 21-15, 18-21, 16-14 win.

The Tigers eventually won the title at the expense of Far Eastern University, while Buytrago and the Bulldogs won a match of their own as third-placers over Adamson University.

After the UAAP tournament was over, however, the last two Rookies of the Year of the league found themselves crossing paths with the Philippine national beach volleyball team, with the arduous task of trying to win a medal on home soil. And win they did — together.

It was an experience that Buytrago would treasure.

2021-AVC-Continental-Cup-Aus-def-Phi-James-Buytrago Buytrago, Requinton back on opposing sides after successful NT stint Beach Volleyball News NU UAAP UST  - philippine sports news

Photo from Asian Volley

“Yung feeling opo, ‘yung experience po na makapaglaro sa ibang bansa sobrang laking tulong po, tsaka achievement din po para sa akin,” the 22-year-old shared. “‘Pag dating ng mga ganitong liga, mga UAAP, nagagamit ko talaga.

“Sobrang malaking advantage po ‘yung experience from labas po. Kasi ‘yung mga advance na mga paglalaro sa beach volleyball talaga.”

On Requinton’s part, playing for the country was added motivation and just a few days ago, he bagged his second straight Southeast Asian Games bronze medal, and with the UAAP just starting, the Tiger Spiker is more than pumped.

“Sobrang saya po ‘yung experience namin dahil nag-back-to-back po kami sa third place, tapos pag-uwi naman po ng Pilipinas, eto naman UAAP.

“So ‘yung excitement ko and ‘yung excitement ko para sa mga teammates ko parang super hype, kasi at the same time madami ako pwede i-share sa teammates ko na mga natutunan ko nung SEA Games and kung may matutulong ako sa team namin, gagawin ko. So parang sobrang blessed ko na makatulong in other way,” the unexpected UST’s third-player said.

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Requinton’s second consecutive Games medal was not a surprise for Buytrago knowing the work ethic his former partner possesses.

“Ah si Jaron talaga, partner ko siya nung last 2019 na SEA Games, so ‘yung masasabi ko lang, para sa akin is sobrang sipag talaga ni Jaron. Tsaka malaking bagay ‘yung di siya nagsasawa matuto po talaga,” the UAAP Season 82 ROY said.

“Lagi siyang gustong may ma-improve, gustong may ma-achieve ‘yung di siya nakukuntento sa ganito lang, gusto niya talaga may ma-achieve so siyempre sobrang challenge ‘yun.”

It was indeed a challenge that the Bulldog took to heart and something Requinton saw in their Friday clash against NU.

The Bulacan-born standout said, “Okay siya. I mean ngayon nakita ko na nag-improve siya sa court, like nagkakaroon na siya ng decision making. ‘Yung kumpyansa niya sa sarili niya na-bi-build na niya unti-unti.

Kaya kanina parang nakita ko ibang James na yun talaga naman, parang nag improve na ‘yung James na partner ko before.”

With Buytrago doing his stuff on the court and Requinton barking instructions from the sideline, it was a hard-fought battle yet again for NU and UST, and it was the Bulldogs who took it this time, 12-21, 21-17, 15-12.

With national team coach Rhovyl Verayo taking charge of NU with Buytrago and knowing of Requinton’s pedigree in the sport, it might just take a short time when the two rekindle their partnership on the sands.

And this is something, the Thomasian spiker is looking forward to.7TH-PHOTO-UST-RANCEL-VARGA-JARON-REQUINTON Buytrago, Requinton back on opposing sides after successful NT stint Beach Volleyball News NU UAAP UST  - philippine sports news

“Siyempre, kung magpa-partner po kami in the future, meron na kaming connection from the past, so irerebuild na lang namin siya and siguro, wala e as in di talaga nag iiba ‘yung connection namin,” the 22-year-old Requinton said. “Siguro more gel pa mangyayari if ma-polish yung gelling sa loob ng court, kasi siyempre may mga bagay na nag-iiba dahil nag-iimprove po ‘yung set ko, iba na ‘yung set ko na ngayon, parang nalaman ko na kung ano ‘yung dapat i-set sa akin and siya naman since nakuha niya na ‘yung confidence niya sa loob ng court, yung pressure sa games, so parang maganda na ‘yung kakalabasan.

“More on connection, polish ng connection, and ‘yung gel pa namin sa loob ng court.”

The possibility of the future really looks bright.

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For now, though, they have some separate scholarly business to attend to.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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