Reeling from a disappointing defeat at the hands of the UST Golden Shuttlers, Clarence Filart and the rest of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles went to focus on the task at hand.
The Loyola-based squad needed an epic comeback to deflect arch-rival De La Salle University Green Archers, 3-2, in the UAAP Season 80 men’s badminton playoff for the number four seed, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
Keoni Asuncion stormed out of the gates and took the first game of the first singles match past Cayel Pajarillo, 21-16. The La Sallian tried a more defensive approach in the second set, but instead received powerful attacks from the Ateneo sophomore. The lead grew bigger and bigger, and Asuncion easily put the Blue Eagles up after a strong 21-11 finish in the second.
In the second singles match, Glenn Camillo had to fend off Carlo Remo’s uprising in the late portion of the first set to get the frame. Remo rallied to put the count at 17-all off a La Salle error. Nonetheless, Camilo stayed aggressive and finished the set with four straight points at 21-17.
Despite Remo’s early surge in the second game, Camilo slowly got his bearings and was on the brink of taking the match after wrong-footing the Ateneo skipper and killing that shuttle to lead at 18-14. The main Blue Shuttler again attempted a comeback, but Camilo leveled the tie with another powerful smash at 21-18.
Team captain Jerickson Obaob and Cayel Pajarillo then wrested the lead for the Green and White after manhandling Clarence Filart and Miguel Paña in the first doubles match. Filart almost single-handedly kept Ateneo in the first game with strong kills, but the opponent simply built a lead too huge to overcome, as the Taft tandem pocketed the first at 21-16.
Things went south for Filart and Paña as errors piled up, compounding their woes over how to stop the La Salle attacks. Pajarillo and Obaob performed flawlessly, easily taking the game and the match at 21-10.
With a sense of urgency, Remo and Asuncion faced the challenge of Bee Monterubio and Michael Saragena in the following doubles match. All three sets went the distance, but crucial errors for La Salle — especially in the third set — gave Ateneo the win. The Blue Eagles took the equalizer at 21-18, 19-21, 21-18.
It was now up to third-year Andrew Pineda and fifth-year Clarence Filart whether it would be La Salle or Ateneo who would face the University of Santo Tomas Golden Shuttlers in the stepladder postseason first round.
The junior Green Shuttler pulled off the stunning first set win at 21-14. However, from there, Filart decided that this would not be his last UAAP match ever.
Filart admitted that he had tried to do something different and that might have cost him the set.
“I was thinking of what I need to do. I know that they have studied my game, so I can’t play [the normal way]. It is more of what tactics I should used,” he furthered.
The former Ateneo captain went out gunning in the second set to eventually set up a deciding third. Filart completed the reversal at 21-15.
In the third set, down 11-15, the fifth-year Blue Eagle stalwart did his best to have his career end or continue on his terms.
He shared, “I was just focusing on not making any mistake and trying to find holes during the rally.”
That worked to Filart’s advantage, as he amassed seven straight points to put the score at 18-11. Ultimately, the Atenean extended his team’s season and his own UAAP career with a 21-17 finish.
The Blue Eagles will face the Tiger Shuttlers on Sunday, October 8, at 8am for the stepladder first round. The winner of that match will play the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, who carry a twice-to-beat advantage.