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Tablan, Pabulayan open UST title defense in UAAP Judo

It’s all systems go for the UAAP Season 82 Judo Championships as the official draw of the two-day tourney was held Friday at the Enrique Razon Sports Complex in De La Salle University.

University of Santo Tomas will gun for a hattrick in the men’s division while aiming for a sixth straight tiara in the women’s division in the tournament that takes place from February 29 to March 1 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Day One will see reigning men’s Most Valuable Player heavyweight Dither Tablan take on University of the Philippines sophomore Carlos Sandoval in the first semifinal.

On the following day, last year’s Rookie of the Year Ryan Benavidez starts off his minus-66 kg title defense against Marlo Marcelino of De La Salle University.

Women’s MVP Khrizzie Pabulayan will pace the six-peat campaign of the Female Judokas of UST, facing former girls division standout Jewel Rafael of University of the East in the quarterfinals of minus-52 kg on Saturday.

Rookie and world sambo bronze medalist Sydney Sy enters the league and will battle Jubelle Vergara in the semifinals of the plus-78 kg class.

SEA Gamers Chino Sy of UST and Jayvee Ferrer of UP hope to make a mark in their UAAP debuts as well.

Sy, a Games medalist in sambo, drew a bye and is seeded to the semifinals of the minus-81 kg weight class, where he may face reigning champion Bernard Margulies. On the other hand, former UAAP boys half-heavyweight champion Ferrer will try his mettle in the middleweight division against last year’s gold medalist Mitchell Salcedo of UST.

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Both judokas step on the mats on Saturday.

Two former girls champions from UE make their first appearance now representing UST in Kryzia Gutang and Danica Barela.

Gutang will face Lady Eagle Elyssa Pua on Saturday in the first round of the minus-57 class, while Barela will duel with former high school teammate Leah Lopez in the quarterfinals of the minus-48 division.

Both Tigresses compete on Saturday.

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