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NU Bulldogs hold off UP despite Gabuelo absorbing first-ever UAAP singles loss

Reigning five-peat champion National University fended off the challenge of last year’s Finals rival University of the Philippines, 4-1, to clinch a Final Four berth in the UAAP 82 Men’s Badminton tournament, Tuesday at Centro Atletico Badminton Center.

Moreover, the Bulldogs remained unscathed after 47 consecutive ties.

Going into the day, the Bulldogs knew that they are in for a dog fight, but faced it heads on.

“Pinrepare namin yung lineup and kumbaga tapatan na, hindi na yung iiiwas. Ready rin kami sa kung ano ang lineup nila, basta laban lang,” NU captain Keeyan Gabuelo shared.

UP took first blood after captain JM Bernardo dealt Gabuelo his first-ever singles loss in the UAAP in a thriller, 17-21, 21-17, 21-13.

Nonetheless, rookie Solomon Padiz Jr. leveled the pairing after taking down Michael Clemente at 21-17, 21-13 in the following singles match.

The first doubles match between Bernardo and Harvey Tungul of UP and NU rookies James Villarante and Julius Villabrille was tight, but in the end, the Bulldogs prevailed, 21-18, 14-21, 21-15.

Gabuelo recovered in the second doubles match as he and Padiz stopped the comeback of Jason Vanzuela and Vinci Manuel in two grueling sets at 22-20, 21-19 to keep the streak going. Thirdy Bacalso completed the rout at 21-9, 21-18 victory over Season 81 top rookie Kyle Legaspi.

On the other hand, De La Salle University also continued its winning streak this season after blanking University of Santo Tomas, 5-0, to also book their ticket to the playoffs.

Skipper Jan Mangubat opened the day with a 21-11, 21-14 sweep of Jerone Belong before Andrew Pineda made it 2-0 after surviving rookie Sean Dela Cruz at 21-19, 23-21.

Eljee Gavile and Bless Linaban then bagged the tie after a three-set decision over Josh Defensor and Russel Enriquez in the first doubles match at 17-21, 21-18, 21-19.

Christian Bernardo then swept his assignments after victories in the second doubles and third singles matches. Along with Mangubat, they dominated Henry and Eric Peralta at 21-12, 21-18, before completing the sweep at 21-15, 21-17 over Lanz Ramirez.

Ateneo, on the other hand, inched closer to a semis berth with a masterful sweep of University of the East.

Bryan Bernardo made quick work of Christian Garcia in two 21-8 games, as Keoni Asuncion also dominated Angelo David at 21-14, 21-9 to make it 2-0.

Fides Bagasbas and Jeno Cariño clinched their third straight win of the Blue Eagles after sweeping Khristian Reyes and Edward Adriano at 21-6, 21-9. Jacinto Maliwat and Cody Torres made it 4-0 after defeating David and Jireh Ortega at 17-21, 21-19, 21- 10, before Arthur Salvado rounded the day with a 21-9, 21-10 demolition of Lance Pelobello.

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