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SWEEPING SHUTTLERS: NU Bulldogs dominate the UAAP S77 Badminton Tournament

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RIZAL MEMORIAL BADMINTON HALL, MANILA CITY – In the 1st series for the UAAP Men’s Badminton Finals Challenge, Joper Escueta and Peter Gabriel Magnaye were the only shuttlers fielded by Coach Jojo Mance in a 3-match, 6-game sweep of the De La Salle University Green Shuttlers. In the 2nd game of the finals, the #1 and #2 ranked shuttlers in the tournament are the only ones needed to sweep, not only the finals, but the entire tournament for the National University Bulldogs. This is the Bulldogs’ 2nd UAAP Men’s Badminton Championship in 3 years.

Men’s Singles Match 1: Philip Joper Escueta (NU) def. Elijah Boac (DLSU); 2:0
NU 1 – 0 DLSU

The team captains for both teams opened up the 2nd series in the Finals challenge with #1 ranked shuttler and Season 75 MVP Joper Escueta facing-off against DLSU team captain Elijah Boac. This was a surprising move by DLSU Coach Owen Lopez as Gerald Sibayan has always been the designated opener for the Green Shuttlers.

In two sets, Elijah Boac was overmatched by the strength and athleticism of Joper Escueta. Escueta played high all throughout the match by not settling for drop returns; instead returning with emphatic smashes. On the other hand, whenever EJ Boac would make a drop return, Escueta would respond with a high lob that would eventually tire-out Boac in the latter stages of the 2nd set. Moreover, Boac would not gain any sort of momentum in the 2 games of the match. Majority of Boac’s points came from unforced errors by Escueta. Joper Escueta would overpower Monterubio in winning both sets with the score of 21-11, 21-11 in a dominant performance.

Aggregate Score: Escueta 42 – Boac 22
Total Match Time: 30 mins

Men’s Singles Match 2: Peter Gabriel Magnaye (NU) def. John Kenneth Monterubio (DLSU); 2:0
NU 2 – 0 DLSU

Former UST star shuttler and #2 ranked in the Men’s Badminton MVP race, Peter Gabriel Magnaye, was as confident as one can be entering court 3 of the Badminton Hall. His opponent, John Kenneth Monterubio, with the weight of the DLSU season on him, had his game face on in trying to secure an upset win over Magnaye.

The 1st set saw Magnaye loosen-up his game by utilizing drop and push shots in long exchanges with Monterubio. Magnaye would find himself finding success with that strategy, going into the 11th point break with a small 11-7 lead over the shuttler from Taft. Monterubio would then come out of the break quicker than the lankier Magnaye to slowly tie the game at 14. Gabe Magnaye would then unleash a series of kill shots in a punishing 7-1 rally to win the 1st set 21-15.

In the huddle prior to the start of the 2nd set, Coach Lopez was overheard saying Monterubio should loosen-up and let the game come to him. With these words, Monterubio played lighter in the 2nd set compared to his stiff positioning in the 1st set. Peter Magnaye played aggressive all throughout the set, going for kill shots for each return he made, majority of which went array. Monterubio would exchange shots with Magnaye and convert them into excellent returns. The game would be tied at 16 at the latter stages of the set. Magnaye, knowing that the he could seal the match in this game, would make-up for his earlier errors in a series of sharp returns that would force Monterubio into errors to gain the lead 20-16. Peter Gabriel Magnaye would score the game-point with an excellent smash to seal the match 21-17.

Aggregate Score: Magnaye 42 – J. Monterubio 32
Total Match Time: 45 mins

Men’s Doubles Match 1: Philip Joper Escueta and Peter Gabriel Magnaye (NU) def. Carlos Cayanan and Gerald Sibayan (DLSU); 2:0
NU 3 – 0 DLSU (NU wins the UAAP Men’s Badminton Tournament)

This would be the swansong for the most dominating doubles tandem for this season of the UAAP Men’s Badminton Tournament. The tandem of Joper Escueta and Gabriel Magnaye went unbeaten in 8 matches, a total of 16 games and 7 different doubles pairs prior to this match-up. They would beat the pair of Cayanan and Sibayan in two matches and four games during the regular season and the 1st game of the finals. The result of the 3rd match would be much worse compared to their first two encounters.

Joper Escueta and Gabe Magnaye executed a perfect game plan all throughout the match. With Magnaye manning the back and Escueta taking over the front end of their court, no shuttlecock went unreturned from the returns of the DLSU tandem. Even with the few errors of the NU tandem, the pair displayed great defense and offense for Magnaye and Escueta in winning the 1st set 21-10.

With the championship just a game away for the NU Bulldogs, team captain and graduating player Joper Escueta would take the lead in what would be his final UAAP game. Escueta would be all over the court in the 2nd set, even diving for returns at certain points. Magnaye on his end would direct all his returns to Cayanan, who again was stifled by the NU play. Sibayan would try to mark his imprint on the game with push shots, which were usually excellent against other doubles pairings but not against Magnaye and Escueta. With the championship just 5 points away, score at 16-7, the pair for Sampaloc would go for successful smashes in a dominant 21-8 win to sweep the entire season.

Aggregate Score: Escueta and Magnaye 42 – Cayanan and Sibayan 18
Total Match Time: 25 mins

The National University Bulldogs have swept the entire men’s badminton tournament. In an interview with Coach Jojo Marce he would say that he is fortunate to coach such a talented team. A lot of factors were involved in the win with the recruitment of Alvin Morada and Paolo Gonzales, the end of residency for Gabe Magnaye and, most importantly, the leadership of Joper Escueta. Escueta, playing in his last UAAP game, would leave for Indonesia to train. He would then represent the Philippine Men’s Doubles team right after.

Meanwhile, the DLSU Green Shuttlers would compete in the University Games this October at Iloilo. Gerald Sibayan was happy with the team’s performance, especially after missing the playoffs for 3 straight seasons. He stressed that the Green Shuttlers will be stronger next year.

Click here for the Awarding Ceremony

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