A stinging loss last Thursday against the University of Santo Tomas was hard to swallow, but the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles were ready to move on from the experience.
The result was a resounding 3-1 victory for the Blue and White over the very same opponent to secure a semifinals berth, Sunday morning at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
Taking the lead this time, Keoni Asuncion showed brilliance in the first singles match. Last year’s top rookie slowly powered his way past UST senior Joed Reyes to take the first set at 21-16.
Offering some resistance, Reyes took the lead at the interval of second game before the Ateneo sophomore made his move. Asuncion took an 18-14 lead, which eventually lead to a 21-17 win, to put his side up again after one match.
In the second singles match, Ateneo skipper Carlo Remo and UST’s John Paul Yabut figured in a dog fight, where the initiators in either of the two sets went out losing.
The Ateneo senior stole the first game at a marathon 24-22 finish as Yabut committed two straight errors. It was Remo’s turn to implode in the following game, as a pair of miscues gave the Thomasian set the second in another extended battle at 22-20.
Remo, nonetheless, would refocus and used a strong run in the portion of the deciding set to subdue Yabut at 21-13.
With their backs against the wall, the Thomasian super seniors Mark Sotea and Reyes took charge. The duo played solidly throughout the match past Clarence Filart and Sean Chan. It was a clinical finish at 21-10, 21-18.
That turned out to be UST’s last growl of the season.
Ateneo skipper Remo shared that they had used that disappointing loss last Thursday as motivation. He added, “Medyo nagalit kami [sa sarili namin] kasi 0-5 eh. We took it as a challenge na kapag nanalo kami ng isa, tuluy-tuloy na.”
The captain was true to his words, as he and his sophomore partner Asuncion pocketed the semis ticket for Ateneo. The Blue Eagles stormed out of the gates in the first set at 21-15.
UST’s own lead man Paolo Barrios and teammate Miguel Santiago attempted to keep it close in the second game, but the aggressive offense of Remo and Asuncion carried them in the second and secured the tie at 21-18.
The Blue Eagles and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons will once again meet on Friday, the 13th of October, at 8:00am for the semifinals.