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Dominant Bulldogs blank Iskos, remain unscathed

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Defending champions National University Bulldogs asserted their might against University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and won, 5-0, Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

NU rookie Keeyan Gabuelo continued his impressive run in the season after surviving sophomore Joseph Lopez in two hard-fought sets. Lopez went out with a strong 6–1 start, before Gabuelo romped to lead 11–7 at the break. The Bulldog newbie maintained this advantage even when his sophomore opponent tried to keep it close. Gabuelo shook off this challenge and won the first, 21–19. It was a similar affair in the following frame up to the interval, but Gabuelo pulled away and led 19–11. Lopez mounted a surge, which was just too late as NU clinched the win, 21–19.

In the following singles match, Ross Pedrosa finally broke from his slump and dominated UP Team Captain Jon Masongsong to put the Bulldogs up 2-0. It took just half an hour for the former Rookie of the Year to dislodge UP’s skipper in two sets. Pedrosa launched an 8–1 start and used it to easily take the first set, 21–9. In the following set, it was Masongsong who threatened to blow the set, only the NU junior answered with a huge 10-point surge. Pedrosa then finished the match off, 21–15.

Using their experience, Ariel Magnaye and last year’s top rookie Alvin Morada clinched the tie for NU in the first doubles in straight sets over Roberto Pineda and Vinci Manuel. The Sampaloc-based duo pushed for an early lead in the first set and fended off the challenge of the Maroons pair to secure the one-set advantage, 21–15. Pineda and Manuel kept the second set close, but NU strung a bunch of runs to take the set, the match, and the tie, 21–15.

Despite securing their third straight win of the season, Paul Gonzales and Pedrosa still pushed on to win the second doubles, but not without resistance from Joaquin Deato and CK Clemente. The Bulldogs and the Maroons wrestled for the momentum until NU went to set points first. Deato and Clemente saved two of these, before Gonzales and Pedrosa walked away with the 1–0 lead in the match. In the next frame, UP nosed out their counterparts after the break and led 15–10. This proved to be comfortable as they managed to level the match at 1-set apiece. The deciding set is much like the first, and it ended similary. Pedrosa and Gonzales got NU to one win away from a sweep.

Magnaye completed the rout for the Bulldogs in the final singles when he upended Miggy Leonardo in two consecutive sets. After a tight start at the first sets, Magnaye slowly built a comfortable margin, which went up to as high as 5, 17–12. Leonardo tried to inch closer at the tailend of the sets, but the NU veteran closed it out, 21–17. The UP senior picked up from this momentum and took the upper hand at the early goings of the second set. Magnaye wrestled control after the interval and never looked back to get the match, 21–15, and wrapped up the reigning champions’ blanking against the Maroons.

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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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