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Michael Clemente punches UP’s ticket to UAAP Men’s Badminton Final Four

University of the Philippines leaned on the heroics of Michael Clemente to book their seventh straight Final Four appearance in the UAAP Men’s Badminton Tournament, denying Adamson University an upset 3-2, Sunday at the PNP Sports Center Badminton Courts.

The third-year Fighting Maroon needed to shake off nerves to end Kevin Fabros’ UAAP career and the Soaring Falcons’ season in three sets, 21-16, 20-22, 21-15, to secure his squad’s ticket to the Final Four.

“Nag-prepare talaga kami for this season kasi yung goal namin is makabalik ng Finals. Final Four, then Finals,” Clemente said. “Gusto rin namin talagang mapag-champion ang UP.”

UP, who ended the round with a 3-3 record, will face top-seeded NU in the semis with the Bulldogs holding a twice-to-beat advantage.

Captain JM Bernardo was dominant in his assignments for UP after just 44 minutes in two matches. He first waylaid Aldous Mercado in the opening rubber, 21-6, 21-11, before teaming up with Harvey Tungul with a 21-3, 21-11 rout of Mercado and David Linaban.

Elbren Concha took two matches for Adamson to force that decider, as he took down Kyle Legaspi, 21-19, 22-20, in the second singles match. The graduating senior and Johnrick Macabenta then swept Vinci Manuel and Jason Vanzuela, 21-15, 21-15.

Defending five-peat champion National University completed an elimination round sweep, ending University of Santo Tomas’ season, 4-1.

Fifth-year standout Keeyan Gabuelo and rookie Solomon Padiz Jr. pocketed the Bulldogs’ 49th straight win at the second doubles match over Henry and Eric Peralta at 21-19, 21-13.

Sean Dela Cruz opened the tie with a win for the Tiger Shuttlers after upending Thirdy Bacalso, 21-18, 9-21, 21-15, before Ryan Marfa leveled the tie with a 21-11, 21-11 triumph over Jan Barlinan.

Rookies Julius Villabrille and James Villarante kept their undefeated record intact to grab the lead for the Bulldogs for good at 14-21, 21-14, 21-13, to set up the tie-clinching win. Padiz completed his day assignments after outlasting Lanz Ramirez in three sets, 18-21, 21-19, 21-15.

On the other hand, Ateneo clinched the other twice-to-beat advantage incentive in the semifinals after taking down De La Salle University, 3-2.

Rookie Arthur Salvado and standout Keoni Asuncion went two-for-two for the day as they sent the Blue Eagles to a 5-1 win-loss record to end the eliminations.

Salvado dominated Jan Mangubat in the third set, 24-22, 22-24, 21-3, before Asuncion outlasted Andrew Pineda, 21-12, 18-21, 21-12. The two then paired up to close the win with a 15-21, 21-16, 21-15 marathon victory over Pineda and Joshua Morada.

Christian Bernardo closed his eliminations campaign on a winning note for the Green Shuttlers as he and Mangubat took the first doubles match at 21-16, 21-11 over Fides Bagasbas and Geno Carino. The former Blue Eagle then survived another long match over rookie Bryan Bernardo at 21-16, 13-21, 21-14.

La Salle finished third in the elims with a 4-2 record and will face Ateneo in the semis.

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