Tiger Paddlers bag championship; Female Paddlers improve to bridesmaid finish
"Spiritually, mentally, and physically ready 'yung team at gusto nilang manalo."
The University of Santo Tomas Male Paddlers swept the UAAP Season 79 men’s table tennis tournament as they blanked defending champions De La Salle University Green Archers in their finals showdown, Wednesday, at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.
“14-0 sa eliminations plus this championship, mas love tayo ni God.” UST head coach Jackson Que said. “Spiritually, mentally, and physically ready ‘yung team at gusto nilang manalo.”
On their first match, Gil Abalanque showcased his dominance early on against La Salle’s Tarak Cabrido, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7.
Alberto Bazar maintained the composure for UST as he barely broke a sweat against Jeremy Ruiz, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7.
UST’s duo Norielle Pantoja and Rian O’neal Maldia ended their first game with straight sets advantage.
Tiger Paddlers wrapped up their second and final game with a 3-0 cushion to bring home the coveted gold medals.
UST’s Norielle Pantoja nabbed the Most Valuable Player plum.
In women’s play, Female Paddlers drew first blood and handed the defending champions DLSU Lady Archers their lone loss of the season, 3-2.
Down 1-2 after three matches, UST never surrendered as Danica Marielle Alburo nailed a pressure-packed victory the expense of Chantal Alberto, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4.
Female Paddlers team captain Maria Niña Nacasabog provided the finishing touches for UST via four-setter victory.
La Salle wiped out the hope of the España-based paddlers for a championship in the second game as they came back strong, 3-0.
In the winner-take-all third game, UST Female Paddlers overcame a 0-2 disadvantage to tie things up at 2-2 via the crucial wins of Rachel Parba-Katrina Tempiatura tandem and Kate Louie Encarnacion.
Nacasabog could not deliver the goods for her squad in the fifth and final match as she ran out steam in a five-set thriller against Alberto, 3-11, 11-4, 11-6, 3-11, 10-12, to hand DLSU their back-to-back championship tilt.
“Sayang.” UST head coach Lorry Wadjad said. “Actually lamang sila [DLSU] sa skills at sa number of players na magaling tapos kami hinuhuli lang namin ‘yung depensa nila at nilalaban lang talaga namin para manalo.”
Male Paddlers will lose the key services of Abalanque, Baltazar and Pantoja due to graduation while Paul Michael Que and Female Paddlers’ Nacasabog are yet to decide if they will utilize their last playing year next season.
Junior Tiger Paddlers finished first and third place in the girls’ and boys’ division, respectively.