National University annexed a seventh straight UAAP men’s badminton championship, sweeping Ateneo de Manila University, 3-0, in the UAAP Season 85 Finals, Sunday morning at the Centro Atletico Badminton Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
This is the Bulldogs’ eighth title in the event and is the first championship of the school for the season.
National team stalwarts Solomon Padiz Jr. and Julius Villabrille pocketed the win in the first doubles match with a dominant showing, 21-13, 21-10, over Bryan Bernardo and Charles Bagasbas.
Padiz and Villabrille established leads at the start of both games with Bernardo and Bagasbas catching up in some stretches. The Bulldogs pair would consequently clean up its court coverage and their attacks to take the match and the championship.
Rookie Lanz Zafra earlier put the Bulldogs on top early with a swift 21-13, 21-13 first singles contest past Lyrden Laborte. The national team stalwart pushed the pace in certain points off the rally, forcing the latter to commit errors or eventually finish the points with kills.
Fellow newbie Mark Anthony Velasco then needed to fend off Atenep captain Arthur Salvado in the second singles match, 21-18, 10-21, 21-14, to go up with the 2-0 advantage. Salvado used that huge first-game run in the second-game rout, but Velasco got back his bearings to put NU on the cusp of the title.
“I am very happy for my boys, the way they performed, the camaraderie which is stronger than before. Very satisfied with the performance,” NU head coach Jaime Llanes said of the squad.
Padiz, who also is the Bulldogs’ team captain, and rookie Zafra were hailed as co-Most Valuable Players of the season.
“Sobrang saya po kasi nakita ko yung pursige ng bawat isa na mag-champion. Andun yung suporta namin sa bawat isa, kasi sabi nga nila ‘There’s no I in team’,” said Padiz Jr.
Meanwhile, University of the Philippines made a triumphant return to the podium after disposing of University of Santo Tomas, 3-1, in the third-place playoff.
Rookie Enzo Rivera and Kervin Llanes pocketed the Fighting Maroons’ bronze in three games against Janzen Panisales and RJ Galve, 19-21, 21-12, 23-21, in the second doubles match.