Photo by Jillian Velasco

A pressure-packed semis match up saw the Maroon Smashers square-off against the top-seeded National University (NU) but failed to close the tight match, 2-3, while the Lady Shuttlers succumbed to ranked two De La Salle University (DLSU), 1-3, in the UAAP Season 82 badminton tournament, October 2, at Centro Atletico.

With the Maroon Samshers leading the team-tie standing at 2-1, the duo of Vinci Manuel and Jason Vanzuela almost erased NU’s twice-to-beat advantage and forced game two against Bulldogs Keeyan Gabuelo and Solomon Padiz Jr. after mounting a six-point lead in the third set, 16-10.

However, costly errors from the Manuel-Vanzuela tandem helped the NU Shuttlers stand at striking distance and establish an 11-1 run to eventually grab the third set, 17-21, equalizing the team-tie at 2-2.

Emotions ran high as Michael Clemente face NU’s Estarco Bacalso for the third and deciding singles. Clemente faltered as offensive errors piled leading to Bacalso’s commanding finish, 16-21, 10-21, ending the Maroons’ two-year finals appearance.

It was team captain JM Bernardo who steered State U’s two wins as he dealt with Gabuelo in three sets in the first singles, 13-21, 22-20, 21-16, before pairing with Harvey Tungul for the first doubles to contain NU’s James Villarante and Julius Villabrille in another three-setter match, 21-17, 13-21, 21-10.

Despite falling short of their season 82 goal for a gold, Bernardo still applauds the Maroons’ season-long performance and looks forward to a shot for a bronze finish.

“Maganda naman pinerform namin eh, talagang siguro mas naglevel-up lang sila… Sinabi sa amin [ng coaches] na kalimutan na namin yung kanina, focus na lang kami [sa Friday] kasi pwede pa rin kami mag third place,” he said.

Likewise, the Lady Maroons mirrored the same defeat as they eventually conceded to the DLSU Lady Shuttlers after four matches, 1-3. 

Rookie Aldreen Concepcion was spotless in her singles record as she scored the lone win of the UP Lady Shuttlers against Mia Manguilimotan in a thriller, 21-16, 14-21, 21-13. Jaja Andres almost feathered out prized player Iyah Sevilla, but eventually collapsed in three sets, 11-21, 24-22, 11-21.

However, the green and white overpowered the Lady Maroons in all doubles matches. Andres and Tricia Opon was limited by DLSU’s Sevilla and Kanna Baba in single-digit scores in only 21 minutes of play, 9-21, 2-21. 

Similarly, Maria Lopez and Andrea Abalos was no match for DLSU’s Shaynne Boloron and Palma Cruz as the latter swept the former, 10-21, 9-21. 

A podium finish is still possible for the UP Badminton Varsity Team as they battle for third on Friday, October 4 at Centro Atletico, against DLSU and NU in the men’s and women’s division, respectively. 

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