With reigning four-peat champions National University Bulldogs drawing an opening day bye, the rest of last year’s semifinalists did not disappoint as the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Badminton tournament unfurled, Monday morning at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
Leading the onslaught of the top guns, last year’s runners-up University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons hammered the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 4-1, on the strength of JM Bernardo’s sweep of his assignments.
The third-year Fighting Maroon took the first singles match over Johnrick Macabenta in two games, before clinching the victory with his captain Vinci Manuel in the second doubles match past Kevin Fabros and Angelo Zerna also in two games. Super senior Betong Pineda and rookie Harvey Tungul took the other match win for the men from Diliman, taking it in two frames against Macabenta and Elben Concha.
Manuel was happy with the performance of the squad, as the captain noted of their goal this season of taking it one step at a time. “It means a lot. Hopefully, we can continue at this pace and intensity, or even better,” he said.
The fourth-year Sports Science major was also all praises for his co-captain. “As usual maganda performance ni JM sa singles. sa doubles naman, kahit first time lang namin mag-partner in a tournament, naka-adjust kami sa isa’t isa.”
Concha took one back for Adamson in three frames over Michael Clemente, but UP’s rookie Kyle Legaspi made sure the Maroons would have the last say in the tie.
Fresh from their championship romp in the Peru International, Carlo Remo and Keoni Asuncion steered the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles to their maiden win as well. The Katipunan men dominated the University of the East Red Warriors, 5-0.
The two singles stalwarts took the first two singles matches, both in straight sets, with Remo defeating Benjamin Silva and Asuncion taking care of Edward Andriano before Sean Chan and Fides Bagasbas claimed the first doubles matches for the tie win in the conquest of Silva and Christian Garcia.
Remo and Asuncion then teamed up to dominate Andre Donesa and Rojan Gamil in two games. Bagasbas ended the rout likewise with a two-set win over Garcia.
The De La Salle University Green Shuttlers finished the day with a rousing win over the University of Santo Tomas Golden Shuttlers, 4-1. Rookie Paolo Khairul impressed in his debut, as he took the 2-0 lead for the Taft-based side, but it was his batch mate Paolo Malabanan who showed up with Andrew Pineda in a hard-fought second doubles win that clinched the tie.
That second doubles match was the lone three-setter in the tie between La Salle and UST, as Paolo Barrios and Miguel Santiago edged out Cayel Pajarillo in close two sets in the first of the two-man play for UST. Pajarillo would not be swept, however, as he finished the tie with a win in the final singles match against Henrick Peralta.
The UAAP Men’s Badminton resumes on Thursday, headlined by the return of the NU Bulldogs.