Last year’s finalists, De La Salle University Green Shuttlers (DLSU) pulled through against a stubborn University of the Philippines (UP), 4–1.
Kenneth Monterubio kicked off DLSU’s campaign with a straight games win over Miggy Leonardo of UP, in the first singles match. UP took charge of the early goings of the first game and moved a point away from the interval, 10-6. Monterubio countered and leveled the game to 10-all, before UP snatched the following point for the break. After the two-minute ceasefire, a tight exchange ensued before DLSU pulled away with scoring runs. Monterubio seized the first game, 21–15. Picking up from his scoring binge in the tail-end of the first, the long-time Green Shuttler built up a 9–5 lead, which he retained into the break. Leonardo made the match interesting by closing in to within a one point deficit, 11–12. Monterubio, however, had other plans, as he forced his good friend Leonardo into errors, while scoring massive kills. La Salle took the second game and the match, with the same 21–15 score line.
In the second singles, DLSU’s Anton Cayanan survived the challenge of batchmate, UP’s Jojo Malelang in three games to put La Salle to within one match of etching win number 1. Malelang pulled four straight points to begin the match, before uncorking five unanswered to take the interval. Another five-point swing from the UP veteran made it hard for the Cayanan to keep in step. The latter tried to trim the lead, but the 11-point lead, 19-8, is just too much even for the experienced La Sallian. UP took the first game, 21-13. Cayanan, however, picked up from this momentum in the tail-end of the previous game for the second, and mounted his biggest lead of the game at 7, 19-12. Malelang, then leveled the game at 19. Cayanan, however, took the last two points to knot the match at 1-game all. Malelang started the deciding game on a high with a 7-3 advantage. The UP senior got the game to the court change with the upperhand, 11-6. From there, Cayanan unleashed several scoring bundles to get within two of taking the taking the match, 19-14. UP launched a last-ditch run, but DLSU would clinch the match, 21-18.
UP’s CK Clemente and Joaquin Deato outhustled veterans Monterubio and Gerald Sibayan to take one for their team in three intense sets at the first doubles match. In the first game, both teams stood their ground, and neither were able to take control, until the UP pair snatched a slim 11–10 lead into the break. The Maroons got to within two points of winning the game, but it was Monterubio and Sibayan who registered two straight points to get to game point first. In the middle of the heated action, Sibayan was warned for taunting. After three deuces, the Clemente and Deato won the first game, 24-22. La Salle took control of the early goings of the following frame as the team mounted a lead that went as high as five points. After the two-minute interval, the Taft-based duo kept UP at bay, as DLSU dismantled them in the second game en route to leveling the match. The Maroons picked up from their momentum at the start of the third canto, and built a 5-1 lead, which Deato celebrated to the point of taunting Sibayan. The sophomore was also given a warning as a result. After an intense and tight exchange of rallies and points, Deato kept getting into the heads of the opponents, and was consequently given a red card. This was crucial, as La Salle wrestled the momentum to lead 15-12. Deato got his bearings right, and UP pulled through to knot the match at 16-all. After Monterubio and Sibayan secured the following point, the Maroons closed the heated battle with five straight points, 21-17.
After that down-the-wire match, Cayanan and Jerickson Obaob survived another three-game war against Betong Pineda and Vinci Manuel to get the maiden win for the Green Archers, in the second singles. Following a tight start in the first game, DLSU pulled away, answering everything UP threw at them, powered through, and clinched the opening frame, 21-11. It was similar story in the following canto, but it was UP who broke free from the deadlock into the break, 11-9. After DLSU trimmed the lead to 3, Pineda and Manuel leveled the match at 1 game each, 21–17. The third game was no different as both teams exchanged scoring runs, ending with DLSU leading before the court change, 11-8. After the break, the Diliman-based tandem kept the game close, as they cut the lead to one, 16-17. The La Sallians then took over the match and secured the game, the match, and the opening victory, 21-18.
Team Captain EJ Boac completed the celebration for DLSU after beating second-year upstart Joseph Lopez in another three-game match in the final singles match of the tie. As what happened in the other matches, Boac and Lopez fought toe-to-toe with each other in the first game. The Maroon registered a four-point swing to get some breathing room, 16-12, and pushed the lead up to game point. Boac closed the gap after scoring three consecutive, but UP finished the game, 21-19. At the second frame, it was the Green Shuttler who emerged from the tight battle leading into the interval, and asserted his might to move within two points from leveling the match. Lopez then powered his way with a five-point run and got to match point. Boac, however, replied with three unanswered points to force a final game, 22–20. After wrestling for control of the match, Lopez got to within two of winning the match first, 19-18. DLSU then uncorked another three-point swing to clinch the match and put exclamation point on his team’s first win of the season.
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