In their quest for a historic fifth straight title, the University of Santo Tomas Lady Judokas managed just one gold for the day.
Still, the defending champions managed to secure four silvers and two bronzes to pick up a slim lead over the University of the East Lady Warriors, 21-16, Saturday at the Enrique Razon Sports Complex in Manila.
“May pressure, pero kinaya ko para sa team,” admitted Pabulayan, who is a three-time Half Lightweight Champion and a former Extra Lightweight kingpin.
“Ngayong season, mas pinursige ko pa sarili ko para mapaigting pa yung technique ko, pati yung fighting spirit ko. Kasi yung mga kalaban namin, pinag-aaralan na kami. Kailangan alam na alam namin yung game plan namin,” she pointed out.
With this pressure, the fourth-year Thomasian needed to gut out a golden victory over Claudine Nargatan of UE, in a match that lasted seven minutes to just advance to the finale.
In the final stage, Pabulayan eked out a victory over teammate Rhodesa Bayas to win her fourth gold in the league.
Other podium finishers for UST besides Pabulayan and Bayas were silver medalists Miam Salvador (Featherweight); Kim Pantoja (Extra Lightweight); and Almira Ruiz (Lightweight). Bronze medalists Princess Aguilar (Featherweight) and Devrah Devaras (Lightweight) completed UST’s seven medal haul.
Just like last season, the Lady Warriors ended the opening day trailing closely behind the Lady Judokas.
Jeanalane Lopez dominated Salvador to win the Featherweight crown, while Shaira Batalla outlasted former champion Pantoja to cop Extra Lightweight gold.
Leah Jhane Lopez and Nargatan picked up bronze for UE.
La Salle’s sole gold in the women’s division was an inspiration one.
After three bronze medal finishes, Charmea Quelino finally overcame the UST duo of Devaras and Ruiz to win the Lightweight division.
DLSU racked up eight points to close out the day, while UP and Ateneo sit at the bottom with three and no points, respectively.
Entering the final day, the half middleweights; the middleweights; the half heavyweights; and the heavyweights of UST look to seal the first-ever five-straight title defense in the 23-year history of the tournament.
And Pabulayan is confident her teammates can show their true potential come Sunday.
“May chance kami na mag-history for UST at makadikit sa most number of championships. Yun yung motivation namin ngayon,” she shared.
“Feeling ko bukas, mas may eagerness pa manalo. Feel ko bukas lalabas yung laro nila.”