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Badminton

The lows and newfound highs of the Lady Bulldogs


Their Cinderella run might have ended too soon, but for the National University Bulldogs women’s badminton team, the journey has been truly worth the wait. Just ask fourth-year skipper Kezziah Culiao.

After their maiden semifinal appearance and defeat at the hands of the strong Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles, the senior revealed that they are still delighted to have come this far.

“Happy po [kami]. Unlike po kasi sa ibang team, wala po kaming RP team or star player and the puro rookies [sic] pa po yung kasama kong teammates and naging fourth place po kami ngayon, so sobrang happy po kasi nagwork po yung six months training namin,” Cuilao said.

Severely undermanned, the Bustillos-based team fielded the minimum number of players a team could enter in the tournament, which is five, but still achieved the seemingly impossible task of reaching the post-season.

The team captain is nothing but proud of their accomplishment. She exclaimed, “Happy po kasi lumaban kami kahit lilima lang kami, kahit wala kaming star players, nagawa naming yung goal naming na mag-fourth this season.”

For the Lady Bulldogs to have done this, Cuilao believes that what they did was just “laban lang. Tiwala lang sa sarili namin.”

However, the senior player, on her part, hadn’t expected this achievement. She said, “Hindi rin [ineexpect] kasi nga medyo kulang pa kami, tapos wala nga kaming star players, puro rookie [sic] pa yung mga teammates ko … sobrang saya kasi hindi rin nga naming inexpect tapos, yun, nag-fourth kami.”

Cuilao went into the season with one thing on her mind: is to enjoy her fourth year of fighting for the Blue and Gold. She said, “Enjoy lang, nothing to lose naman eh.”

“From eighth naging fourth na kami ngayon. Give lang yung best namin. Enjoy lang sa games.”

With this stint in the semifinals, Cuilao and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs will not be regarded as easy pickings and underdogs anymore.

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“Magiging iba na yung tingin sa min ng ibang teams kasi dati nga eighth kami, tapos ngayon fourth na. Hindi na [rin] nila sasabihin na yung girls mahina, and then yung boys lang naman malakas sa NU,” she said.

“Next year, iba na yung tingin nila sa min. Hindi na yung dating kulelat.”

For the Final Four debutantes, this is something to build on for the next season.

Cuilao declared, “Continue lang. Ito nga, na-achieve namin yung goal namin, so keep it up lang.”

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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