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NU wins Back-to-Back Men’s Badminton Championships, beats DLSU

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Winning a championship is hard for any given team. Successfully defending it the following year can only be done by a special team. Clinching two straight championships while going undefeated across two seasons is a special achievement in the UAAP.

The NU Bulldogs clinched its second straight UAAP Men’s Badminton championship at the expense of DLSU, extending their undefeated streak to eighteen ties which started in Season 77.

It’s been an incredible year for NU as they also grabbed individual honors. Keeyann Gabuelo was named Rookie of the Year and Ariel Magnaye was declared as Most Valuable Player this Season 78.

Ros Pedrosa started the tone for NU when he came up against Anton Cayanan of DLSU in the first singles match. Pedrosa breezed through the first game with Cayanan, showing little resistance to the former’s dominance. Pedrosa won the first game 21-11.

The second game was a different story but it had a same ending as Pedrosa won again against a much improved Cayanan. Cayanan improved in the second game but still wasn’t able to impose himself with Pedrosa leading the whole way. There was no turning back for Pedrosa once he led 19-16 to eventually win 21-18.

Rookie of the Year awardee Gabuelo was called up by NU to compete against his long time opponent Kenneth Monterubio of DLSU for the second singles match. It was a thrilling three game contest with both competitors maintaining their intensity from the start till finish.

Monterubio earned first blood with a comeback win over Gabuelo. Gabuelo led 12-15 after the interval only for Monterubio to equalize at 16-16. From then on, the two players scored points out of each others’ faults which led to Monterubio winning the first game 21-18 via a fault from Gabuelo.

Not to let the loss of the first game bring him down, Gabuelo stormed back to win the second game 22-20. Gabuelo and Monterubio were neck and neck with each other starting from the get go. The situation became more tense when Gabuelo leveled the scores at 17-17 with a powerful smash. Two successive points by Monterubio gave him a 17-19 lead but Gabuelo wasn’t fazed and forced a deuce. After earning a 21-20 lead over Monterubio, Keeyan then forced his opponent to make a fault to secure the second game 22-20.

Determined to not be beaten by Gabuelo for a third time in singles competition this season, Monterubio obtained a narrow third game win over the Bulldog with a score of 21-19. It was a close bout all the way with the scores being level numerous times in the third game. Things took a turn for Monterubio when he led 19-18 due to a Gabuelo fault. Monterubio commited a fault of his own afterwards but he scored two consecutive points to give DLSU its first match of the finals series.

Cayanan returned with Gerald Sibayan for DLSU while Ariel Magnaye accompanied Alvin Morada for the first doubles match of the tie. The DLSU pair of Cayanan and Sibayan attained a close 22-20 first game win over their NU counterparts. NU had a 15-11 lead coming from the interval but DLSU brought the game to life after scoring four straight points to make it 15-15. It was a matter of scores being leveled afterwards with NU committing a fault to hand DLSU a deuce situation. DLSU took advantage of NU’s mistake to win the first game 22-20.

Magnaye and Morada played better in the second game, completely outplaying Cayanan and Sibayan to win 21-9. The NU duo led all the way from the start with DLSU struggling to find an answer to the former’s superiority.

Cayanan and Sibayan wanted to make up for the debacle in the second game, giving Magnaye and Morada a harder run for their money with both teams leveling each others scores. NU then forced the interval after a service fault to lead 11-10. It was the same tale after the interval until NU managed to lead 19-15. DLSU tried to make a comeback at 19-20 but it was to no avail as NU finally won the third game 21-19.

By this point of the tie, NU was leading 2-1 versus DLSU. Pedrosa and Paul Gonzales had the opportunity to claim the championship for NU in the second doubles match. Standing in their way were the Monterubio brothers Kenneth and Joshua of DLSU.

Determined to prolong the finals series for DLSU, the Monterubio brothers were clearly the more determined pair in the first game compared to Pedrosa and Gonzales. Pedrosa and Gonzales had a commanding 6-14 lead, only for DLSU to make a resurgence and lead 20-15. NU scored three uninterrupted points to cut the deficit to 18-20 but DLSU remained composed to win 21-18.

Pedrosa and Gonzales made no mistake in the second game, conquering the Monterubio brothers 21-15 to even out the match. NU dictated the tempo, not surrendering the lead at least once in the second game. A resounding lead of 19-13 gave NU the initiative to finish the game and they did so at the expense of a stunned DLSU.

In what was ultimately the last game of Season 78, both NU and DLSU went all out to either conclude or stretch the finals series. It was a hard fought game to the end but Pedrosa and Gonzales squeaked it for NU over DLSU’s Monterubio brothers with a score of 22-20. It was a pulsating third game with scores being equalized at each turn. NU then led 20-19 only to shoot themselves on the foot, forcing a deuce due to a service fault. At 20-20, NU maintained their composure in the endgame to win 22-20 and clinch a back-to-back UAAP Men’s Badminton Championships.

While his players were celebrating, NU coach Jojo Mance was at a loss of words with what his team achieved this season. “Masayang, masaya lang”, is all that he can muster.

In the end, it has been a dramatic UAAP Season 78 Men’s Badminton Tournament. NU are worthy champions with DLSU enjoying a successful season themselves. NU very much look like favorites for a third straight championship come Season 79 and it would take a brave person to bet against them.

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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