Defending a championship is never an easy task.
However, with a team as strong as the University of the East men’s sabre squad, such feat can appear easily accomplished. The Red Warriors thumped the opposition en route to retaining the gold, Friday at the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym.
Having a bye into the medal rounds, the UE Red Warriors and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons waited for the other teams to battle it out. In the quarterfinals, the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Fencers dominated the De La Salle University Green Fencers, 45-34. On the other hand, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws posted a similar drubbing against the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Fencers, 45-30. The results set the stage for the Final Four matches: UE against UST, UP versus FEU.
The Red Warriors continued the streak of huge victories when they stepped onto the piste for the first time in the afternoon. Senior Bruce Ng played out his final year and provided the help to the squad. However, it was the solid performance of individual gold medallist and rookie, CJ Concepcion, that made its imprint on the dumping of UST, 45-21.
The other Final Four match followed a different script from that of the UE-UST tussle. The second-seed Maroons struggled for form in the early stages of the match against the Tamaraws. FEU took advantage of the jitters of UP rookie Miggs Polido and third-year Kit Base to take the lead. As the match went on, however, the two aforementioned UP sabreurs found their rhythm and ultimately cut down the deficit for fifth-year Jolo Ferrer to deal with and, perhaps, snatch the match. In the end, FEU’s anchor David Lumahan attacked and booked his team’s ticket to the Final.
Nonetheless, the message from Concepcion was clear: “kailangan naming makuha para mapagpatuloy lahat.” This is a sentence that can be roughly translated as a mission to take the gold medal and, ultimately, the golden trophy. The Warriors wasted no time and tamed the Tamaraws with a rousing 45-17 demolition. With the mission of retaining the men’s fencing title with UE virtually in the bag, the promising rookie exclaimed, “sobrang saya; speechless din po.”
With such a strong showing, Concepcion could have also bagged the Rookie of the Year Award. “As a freshman, as a rookie, sobrang pressure din po. [Pero] goal ko po talagang mag-Rookie [of the Year]. At pag nakuha ko siya, masasabi kong thank you kay Lord, sa coaches ko, sa teammates ko.”