After suffering cramps that forced him to retire in the first tie of the Finals, Ateneo De Manila University Men’s Tennis team rookie Gab Tiamson fought through and gave his squad a new lease on life.
The Blue Eagles stunned the National University Bulldogs in Tie 2 of the UAAP championship series with a resounding 3-0 sweep, Tuesday afternoon at the Colegio San Agustin Bulacan Tennis Courts.
Ateneo have forced a winner-take-all contest on Saturday.
Marcen Gonzales opened the day for the Blue and White in a grind-out victory over Allen Manlangit in two sets. The fourth-year standout denied the Bulldog a break opportunity, and took one himself in either set and finished the match in two 6-4 frames to take the lead for Ateneo.
Justin Prulla and Jeric Accion then started strong for the National U side. But as has happened all season long, Erj Gatdula and Luke Flores slowly got their groove to close out an even tighter 7-5, 6-4 contest.
That set up the heroics of the rookie from De La Salle Zobel.
Macky Latorre secured the Bulldogs’ first set win of the session in a tie-break, but that turned out to be the only bark from the former three-peat champions, as the newbie bagged another close 6-4 second set.
“Pero hindi lang naman si Gab, nanalo rin si Marcen [Gonzales] against [Manlangit], eh sobra din ang balik ‘nun. Tapos ‘yung doubles, nag-deliver rin,” said Ateneo coach Gee Abacan.
Tiamson threatened to close the day early with a 5-1 advantage in the deciding third set, only to surrender the next two games to Latorre. In the ninth game, however, and on his serve, the rookie finally got the serves he needed and sealed the win for the Ateneo.
For Abacan, it was a total team effort that gave the win past a tough National U side.
“Gab [Tiamson] delivered today. Natapos niya yung game ngayon. You know that Mack Latorre is really, really tough. We know that since he was a kid, talagang pipigain ka ‘nun,” he said. “Pero hindi lang naman si Gab, nanalo rin si Marcen [Gonzales], eh sobra din ang balik ‘nun. Tapos ‘yung doubles, nag-deliver rin.”
Abacan hopes that the Blue Eagles will continue the same determination in that championship-clinching third tie. “So, on Saturday, we’ll see. NU is a really tough team, so we’ll try to hang in there.”
The third tie of the series is scheduled on Saturday, April 13 at the same venue starting at 8 a.m.
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