Seven-time defending champion National University initiated its title defense with a dominant 5-0 sweep of Adamson University on the opening day of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Badminton tournament on Saturday at the Centro Atletico Badminton Center.
James Villarante made a rousing return to the UAAP after missing the previous season. He secured the victory for the Bulldogs, partnering with Cloud Bulac in the first doubles rubber.
Villarante and Bulac needed a third game but eventually defeated Soaring Falcons Noel Hernandez Jr. and Gabrielle Ganoy, with a score of 21-15, 18-21, 21-14.
This win marked the school’s 57th straight victory dating back to UAAP Season 75 (2012-13) — the longest ongoing streak in the league.
Bulldogs head coach Jaime Llanes commented, “Satisfied naman ako kasi may mga rookies Kami at understandable na nagkaroon ng jitters. Pero sabi ko nga first game ‘to, so, hopefully, next games maging better.”
Mark Velasco secured NU’s first point with a victory over Nathaniel Acedillo, with a score of 21-5, 21-10, while Miko Mosarbas narrowly defeated Harold Bonilla, with a score of 19-21, 22-20, 21-16.
Solomon Padiz Jr. and Julius Villabrille continued the winning streak by defeating David Libanan and Kyles Corcuera, with a score of 21-7, 21-10. MJ Perez completed the rout with a 21-12, 21-17 sweep of Renniel Jusi.
In other courts, rookies Lance Vargas and Johann Abinales made their mark with victories for Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines, respectively.
Vargas, a Smash Pilipinas standout, set the tone for the Blue Eagles’ 5-0 sweep of De La Salle University by defeating Joshua Cuarte in the second singles rubber, with a score of 21-17, 21-18.
Arthur Salvado Jr. and Lyrden Laborte then closed it out for Ateneo with a 21-17, 21-13 win over Joshua Morada and Yugin Tan.
Abinales, on the other hand, partnered with team captain Michael Clemente to secure the Fighting Maroons’ 4-1 victory over UST.
The rookie out of San Sebastian College-Recoletos and his senior upended Munir Bartolome and Kyle Basilio, with a score of 21-13, 21-18.
The Bulldogs will face De La Salle on Sunday, while Ateneo and UP will compete for a potential share of the lead. UST and Adamson will face each other to complete the triple-header, all set at 8 a.m. at the same Cubao venue.