National University bucked a match disadvantage and turned it into a 3-2 win over University of the Philippines to stay undefeated in the UAAP Season 85 men’s badminton tournament, Saturday at Centro Atletico Badminton Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
The win is the Bulldogs’ 54th consecutive tie win and they moved closer to another Finals appearance with a spotless 3-0 record, while the Fighting Maroons slipped to a 2-1 card.
Rookie Jelo Albo opened the day with the first singles win over fellow national team stalwart Lanz Zafra in an unexpected dominant sweep, 21-14, 21-14.
Mark Anthony Velasco, though, guarded NU’s spotless record starting with a 21-12, 23-21 conquest of Kervin Llanes in the second singles match. He then teamed up with Zafra to wrap the tie in a 21-19, 21-15, victory over Albo and Jason Vanzuela, in the second doubles match.
Solomon Padiz Jr. and Julius Villabrille earlier snatched the lead for the defending champions after taking down UP co-captains Wileyto Yray and Charles Alcarpio in the first doubles match, 21-12, 21-16.
Fighting Maroons rookie Enzo Rivera pocketed the third singles rubber over Padiz after taking the second game at 22-20 and with the latter being forced to retire due to cramps before the deciding third game.
“Satisfied naman ako sa nilaro nila. Itong last singles lang, feeling ko kaya nag-cramps si Monch (Padiz) kasi dehydrated siya,” NU head coach Jaime Llanes said. “Pero laro iyan eh, nangyayari talaga. Pero overall satisfied talaga ko kasi lahat sila nag-perform eh.”
On the other court, Ateneo de Manila University joined NU on top of the leaderboard with a 5-0 sweep of Adamson University.
Lynden Laborte and Arthur Salvado put the Blue Eagles up 2-0 with their singles wins, before Bryan Bernardo and Charles Bagasbas sealed the tie in the first doubles match over CL Garcia and Harold Bonilla, 21-14, 21-14.
University of Santo Tomas emerged as the other victors of the morning, stunning De La Salle University with a wipeout as well, 5-0.
Janzen Panisales and RJ Gavile completed the upset with a win in the first doubles match over La Salle’s Joshua Morada and Pete Abellana, 21-13, 21-17, in an action-packed 39 minutes of battle.
The Bulldogs will take on the winless Green Shuttlers in a bid to get one of the Finals tickets, while the Blue Eagles take on the Fighting Maroons in another crucial tiff. The Golden Shuttlers will battle the Soaring Falcons in a bid for back-to-back wins.
Day 4 is scheduled for Sunday at 8 a.m., still at the same Quezon City venue.