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Top seed RJ Oba-ob, defending champ Mika De Guzman advance to PBO semis

ANTIPOLO CITY — Top seed Rabie Jayson Oba-ob advanced to the semifinals of the 2024 Philippine Badminton Open men’s singles event with a come-from-behind 19-21, 21-14, 21-5 victory over Kervin Llanes of the University of the Philippines on Sunday at the First Pacific Leadership Academy here.

The 31-year-old former national team standout used a late first-game run to fuel his comeback victory against the determined 19-year-old University of the Philippines upstart.

He secured the win in 31 minutes in the last-eight battle of this Philippine Super 500 tournament sponsored by Smart, Mizuno, the Philippine Sports Commission, and the MVP Sports Foundation.

“Yung game plan ko kasi ngayon is tagalan ko ‘yung laro kasi alam kong mas matibay ‘yung endurance ko,” said Oba-ob, a Zamboagueño.

“Bihira rin sa bansa natin ‘yung mga badminton courts na matataas yung ceiling tulad dito, kaya tinry kong taasan ‘yung bola para masira ‘yung timing niya, lalo na karamihan sa mga players ngayon gumagamit ng power.”

Next up for Oba-ob is Llanes’ fellow Isko and Smash Pilipinas member, Jelo Albo, who defeated Ateneo De Manila University’s Robert Ishmael Ramos 21-15, 21-10 in 34 minutes.

Clarence Villaflor of Cadiz-JBA/Apacs, a 19-year-old West Negros College freshman, and Arthur Samuel Salvado Jr., the UAAP Season 86 co-MVP, will contest the other finals slot in this event, also sponsored by Jollibee, Chowking, and the FPLA.

On the women’s side, APACS Kazakhstan International Series 2023 champion and women’s singles titleholder Mika de Guzman continued her impressive run with a dominant 21-8, 21-6 win over Khea Montañez of San Sebastian College-Recoletos in 26 minutes.

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De Guzman, a three-time UAAP champion with Ateneo, will face fifth-seed Karyll Rio of National University in the semifinal. Rio edged past University of Santo Tomas’ UAAP Season 86 Rookie of the Year, Patricia De Leon, with a 21-18, 21-17 victory.

Ysabel Amora from NU and JLTC’s Anielka Maeve Paz will battle in the lower half’s semifinal for a place in the final.

Julius Villabrille and Nicole Albo’s quest for back-to-back doubles gold remained alive as well after advancing to the final four on Monday.

Villabrille and Solomon Padiz Jr., both Smash Pilipinas standouts from National University, defeated fellow Bulldogs John Benedict Gam and Marcjoel Clarence Perez 21-12, 23-21 in men’s doubles. Meanwhile, Albo and Lea Inlayo, former UAAP ace student-athletes, fended off UP’s Susmita Ramos and Anthea Gonzalez 21-8, 21-14.

Villabrille and Albo then teamed up for a 21-9, 21-10 clinical victory over NU’s Zed Montebubio and Rio in the mixed doubles quarterfinals, setting up a semifinal clash with Yonex Sunrise Philippines’ John Gregg Paz and Victor Pcome/MMBTC’s Marilou Dacillo, who triumphed 21-16, 5-21, 21-16 against Adamson University’s Noel Hernandez Jr. and Graziel Cabriga.

The action intensifies as championship berths are on the line on the competition’s last day at this Antipolo venue before shifting to Gameville Ball Park in Mandaluyong for Tuesday’s finals.

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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