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Clarence Villaflor upsets reigning PBO champion Mark Velasco


ANTIPOLO CITY — Clarence Villaflor of Cadiz-JBA/Apacs dropped the upset axe against reigning champion Mark Velasco in a stunning 21-17, 21-13 win in the Round of 32 of the 2024 Philippine Badminton Open on Friday at the First Pacific Leadership Academy (FPLA) here.

Villaflor, the 19-year-old upstart from Cadiz in Negros Occidental, lost to the country’s no. 1 male shuttler and eventual finalist Ros Leenard Pedrosa in last year’s edition’s Round of 16 but came back strong this time and ended Velasco’s reign after a 41-minute battle in this tournament sponsored by Smart, Mizuno, the Philippine Sports Commission, and the MVP Sports Foundation.

“Last year po na-injure po ako two weeks before PBO, kaya hindi po ako nakapag-train ng kumpleto. Kaya this year po, naisip ko po talagang bumawi kaya nag-train po talaga ako every day,” said the Business Administration freshman from West Negros College.

“Consistency is the key lang po talaga and don’t give up,” said Villaflor on his mindset heading into the next match against Carlo Remo of Ateneo de Manila University, a 21-10, 21-13 victor over Zachary Chua of Bianca Carlos Badminton Academy.

Elsewhere in the tournament, the thrones are well-protected with defending women’s singles champion Mika De Guzman leading the way.PBO2024-Mikaela-Joy-De-Guzman-9370 Clarence Villaflor upsets reigning PBO champion Mark Velasco Badminton News  - philippine sports news

De Guzman ushered in her title-retention campaign in the women’s singles of the Philippine Badminton Open 2024 with a 21-8, 21-7 win against De La Salle University’s Mia Manguilimotan in this competition sponsored by Jollibee, Chowking, and FPLA.

Despite the score line, the three-time UAAP MVP needed 22 minutes to book her place in the Round of 16, and De Guzman was pleased with this solid start in this Philippine Super 500 tournament sponsored by Smart, Mizuno, the Philippine Sports Commission, and the MVP Sports Foundation.

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“Hindi ko rin po iniisip na defending champion ako, but in my heart and in my mind, sabi ko na I need to give my 100 percent sa game and no regrets. So far, I still got my 100 percent,” said the 2023 APACS Kazakhstan International Series champion in the same event.

De Guzman will again take on a familiar foe in Anthea Gonzalez of the University of the Philippines, a 21-23, 21-17, 21-14 winner against Sarah Joy Barredo of the National University, in the Round of 16 on Saturday.

“I will just have to give my best every game, kasi kapag binigay ko ‘yun, makikita ko ‘yung result na gusto kong kalabasan. I know na top players from their schools ‘yung makakalaban ko. Kaya kailangan ko talagang ibigay ‘yung best ko kasi wala namang kalaban na madali. I’m actually excited to play against everyone,” said the 22-year-old product of St. Paul College Pasig on her journey moving forward.

Julius Villabrille and Nicole Albo followed De Guzman’s lead and continued their bid for back-to-back doubles in this week-long hostilities backed by Maynilad, MWell, and Cignal, starting with the men’s and women’s doubles victories on Friday.

Smash Pilipinas and National University standouts Julius Villabrille and Solomon Padiz Jr. took down UAAP Season 71 MVP Winston Aquilo and Lanz Ramirez of Smart, 21-10, 21-12 in the Round of 64.

On her part, De La Salle University product Albo teamed up with Lea Inlayo, a former UP standout, in a rousing 21-6, 21-7 rout of San Beda University’s Isabella Pollentes and Lharrene Sales.

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Villabrille and Albo will face the University of Santo Tomas’ Bien Miraflor and Rhafi Anne Santos in the Round of 32 match set on Saturday morning to kick off their mixed doubles title defense.

Action in all five events — men’s and women’s singles, men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles — continues later in the day and will see Round of 16 matches on Saturday at the same Antipolo venue.

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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