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.