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National U downs La Salle, moves one win away from sweep

The reigning, three-time champions National University Bulldogs are knocking on the doors of another Finals appearance.

The still undefeated Bulldogs overwhelmed the De La Salle University Green Shuttlers, 4-1, to secure its fifth straight win this season and one away from an elims sweep, Sunday morning at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Mike Minuluan started off the day with an impressive showing against Cayel Pajarillo in the first singles match. The third-year Bulldog showed variety of shots en route to a straight sets win at 21-11, 21-14.

Glenn Camillo, however, managed to get one back for the Green and White as he edged out a former La Sallian in Christian Cuyno. The current Green Archer slipped past the ex-University of Saint La Salle standout in the first set at 23-21, before Cuyno leveled the match with a 22-20 second-set win. Nonetheless, Camillo finished it off in the third at 21-18.

The doubles pairs of the defending champions then did their job and sealed the win.

The result was a drubbing in both two-versus-two play as Alvin Morada and Alem Palmares, and Minuluan and Cuyno, breezed past their La Salle opponents.

Morada and Palmares took care of Pajarillo and Jerickson Obaob in a swift 21-12, 21-9 conquest in the first doubles match. The first two NU singles players then combined to dispose Bee Monterubio and Michael Saragena at 21-17, 21-13, to ultimately win the tie.

UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year Keeyan Gabuelo afterwards shook off Andrew Pineda in three sets at 21-13, 15-21, 21-17, to close out the rout.

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“Para sa ‘kin, OK naman po lahat ng laro,” assessed team captain Alvin Morada. “Kahit natalo si [Cuyno] kanina, lahat po maganda naman pinakita, at lumabas naman lahat ng ginawa sa training.”

Despite being due to face an also-ran team, the Bulldogs know of the importance of winning that final assignment. The UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year said, “Paghahandaan pa rin naman yung laro namin sa Thursday. Malaki yung magiging advantage namin [kapag nag-Finals], makakapahinga kami, makakapag-training pa.”

The Bulldogs will try to seal another Finals appearance when they face the University of the East Red Warriors (1-4) on Thursday, October 5 at 8am. For the Green Shuttlers (3-2), they will attempt to drag the University of the Philippines (4-1) to a possible logjam for the other twice-to-beat incentive on the same day and time.

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