Golden Judokas seek redemption
After surrendering the coveted championship in last year’s UAAP, the University of Santo Tomas Golden Judokas hope to bring the glory and pride back to España.
The Men’s Judo team failed to clinch the back-to-back championship after losing to Ateneo de Manila Judokas last season with a huge 16-point lead in the standing. It was a rough stretch for the team, but head Coach Steven Esteban assured that they have a good chance of winning it all this year.
“I think they can get the championship again. The big difference is how they will face their emotions during their matches,” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.
Esteban also pointed out that the team has been doing extra effort in training, highlighting their endurance.
“Yung mga takbo nila, yung mga sprinting, kayang kaya nila yun [yun lahat], namamaintain nila yung pulse rate nila.”
Dealing with heavy losses
The team will have to compete this year without the services of key veterans Lucky Flores, Harvey Navarro, Karl Navarro, Joaquin Miciano, and Kazuki Masaoka.
The 10-time champions will also be having a shortage in their lineup as they will only have 14 players who will compete to the standard of 16 in each team, with heavyweight (+100) and half-heavyweight (-100) only having one player each.
However, Coach Esteban said that captain Al Llamas and co-captain Mafei Saclangan are doing a wonderful job in inspiring the judokas in trainings.
“Since mga seniors sila, yung respect na nabibigay sakanila maganda [dahil] sumusunod naman yung mga players [and] at the same time nagbibigay sila ng mga tips sa buhay at sa judo,” he said.
Esteban added that the team has had success in other competitions, with most of the players winning medals.
Rookies Jedd Kim, George Kim and returnee Luis Sandiego will help the Judokas in their campaign.
The veteran coach said he does not have a problem with the rookies aside from the first time jitters they will be having at the tournament.
“I think it will be a whole new atmosphere [for the rookies] during the UAAP because the pressure is too much to handle. I think they need to get used to that type of environment first.”
The Judokas will start their Season 79 campaign tomorrow, Nov. 19 and on Sunday, Nov. 20 at the De La Salle-Zobel in Muntinlupa City.
Photo by Carmelo Culvera