After missing on the opportunity to put the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on top, team captain CK Clemente delivered in the clutch.
The fifth-year standout fended off John Paul Yabut in the deciding singles match to capture the Diliman-based side’s second straight win at the expense of the University of Santo Tomas Golden Shuttlers, 3-2, Friday morning at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
The Golden Shuttlers got to the board first as Cris Sanchez overwhelmed UP’s co-captain Vinci Manuel in the first singles match. The Golden Shuttler took the 1-0 lead for his squad, finishing off the third-year Maroon, 21-11, 21-14.
The advantage did not last long for UST as the able singles player in JM Bernardo leveled the tie for UP. The second-year cruised to his ninth straight singles win past Joed Reyes after completing a 23-21 comeback in the first set and whitewashing the latter in the second at 21-11.
It looked like the Maroons wrested the advantage after Clemente and Paul Gonzales took the first set of the first doubles match at 21-16. However, the veteran in both Reyes and John Mark Sotea fuelled them to pocket the secobd set at 21-18.
What put them at an even bigger advantage in the decider were the errors piling up for UP. Clemente admitted, “Nung third set, nag-relaxed kami kaya dumami yung errors.” The Maroons could not recover and the Thomasians regained the lead.
Nonetheless, that turned out to be the last growl from the España boys.
Bernardo and last year’s captain Betong Pineda forced the deciding singles match after completely annihilating Kristian Barrios and Juan Miguel Santiago. The two College of Human Kinetics majors secured the match at 21-18, 21-9; thereby, setting up their skipper for the comeback win.
Clemente stormed off the gates and easily took the first game at 21-11. Yabut, taking better control of the shuttle, then forced a deciding set at 21-18. From there, however, the fifth-year Sports Science student wasted no time and slowly got the third set, the match, and the tie at 21-9.
The part-time TVC model shared that prior to the third singles match, he looked on what was needed to be done. “As the captain, tinitignan ko yung dapat mangyari sa future,” Clemente said.
“As the anchor, alam kong nasa likod ko sila, nakasuporta. Kailangan kong manalo, dapat akong manalo para sa team. Kasi kung matatalo kami paano pa yung mga pinaghirapan namin,” he furthered.
And with his band of brothers all standing up and cheering for him, it was just an added motivation for the UP skipper. “Masaya kasi, isang team kami ‘dun. Nakita ko naman kung gaano sila mag-cheer. Nakaka-overwhelm din.”
After shaking off UST’s challenge, the Fighting Maroons (2-1) will take on the dangerous Adamson University Soaring Falcons (0-4) on Saturday at 8am. The hard-luck Golden Shuttlers could regroup before facing the same squad the following day.