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Reigning champions NU routs Ateneo

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Defending champions National University (NU) downed rivals, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), 4–1, to open their quest for a third straight crown on a high note.

Rookie Keeyan Gabuelo started the season for NU with a straight games win over Jan Mangubat of the Blue Shuttlers. Gabuelo survived the challenge of the Atenean at the start of the match, and took the first game for his team, 21–18. After a tight battle in the early goings, Gabuelo then flexed his muscles and scored six straight points to wrestle the lead 8–2. Mangubat tried to keep himself in the game, but the huge lead of Gabuelo was overwhelming for the Atenean. NU took the second game, and the match, 21–11.

In the second singles, Ateneo Team Captain Clarence Filart used his length advantage to stun former Rookie of the Year Ross Pedrosa in three gruelling games. The two exchanged shots at the start, but Filart pulled away with the biggest lead of the game which proved to be pivotal as the Blue Eagle sealed the deal to take the first game, 21–16. After Filart trimmed his lead in the second game, Pedrosa breezed through with a 6–1 run to level the match, 21–13. Sensing momentum, the Bulldog started with a 5–1 swing in the deciding game. Filart, however, answered with a huge 10–3 run to lead to lead 14–9. Pedrosa inched closer, but Filart finished the match after 50 exciting minutes, on a 4–1 run, 21–16.

In the first doubles, NU veteran, Ariel Magnaye, and last year’s Rookie of the Year, Alvin Morada, paired up to upend Ateneo’s Patrick Gecosala and Fides Bagasbas in two games. In the first game, NU banked on an early lead to take it, 21-15. The Bulldogs rose to seven unanswered points to snatch the lead and dominated the next few rallies and moved just a point away from taking the match, 20-12. Ateneo, however, did not easily give up, and scored four straight, 16-20. NU would not be denied in the following rally, and the Bulldogs snared the game, and the match, 21-16, for the 2-1 tie lead.

Pedrosa partnered with Paul Gonzales in the second doubles to take one back against Filart, who went with Hanz Bernardo, to secure the opening day victory for the defending champions in two games. The NU Bulldogs executed well in the early part of the first game, and posted a 7–1 lead. Filart and Bernardo kept the game close, cutting the gap to 3, 7–10. From the break, NU raised two three-point swings to push their lead to the biggest of the game, 19–11. After an exchange of kills and errors, the Bulldogs emerged victorious in the first frame, 21–15. At the start of the second game, both teams kept it close. Ateneo pushed their lead to 11–8 at the break. NU took the lead after scoring five straight. That run proved pivotal, as Pedrosa and Gonzales finished the game and the match, 21–17.

NU’s Ariel Magnaye finished the day for the Bulldogs with a rousing win over Carlo Remo in straight games in the third singles match. Magnaye posted a 6-1 start to kick off the match. Ateneo kept it close, but NU posted an 11-8 lead going into the break. After a Remo point after the interval, NU strung seven straight points, 18-8. Despite scoring more from this point, Ateneo still failed to get the first game, as Magnaye took it, 21-13. Remo took his last-ditch momentum into the second game and rose to a slim 6-5 lead. Magnaye then countered to take the lead into the break, 11-9. From there, NU pulled away after scoring five unanswered en route to 19-13. Remo cut the deficit, 16-20, but Magnaye completed the rout on the following point.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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