It has been a crazy week in the UAAP, with majority of the events having ended. While there was a gold rush for a number of schools, a certain squad stood up for their beliefs and continue to fight for what they think is right.
Here are the top UAAP stories for the week.
October 26, 2016 – University of the Philippines, Quezon City
A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of a colored ribbon.
For the first time in 21 years, the University of the Philippines Pep Squad will not participate in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition.
“From our first request for an informal meeting, to the letter of protest advised by the organizers themselves, we have exhausted all our efforts to reach a resolution. We have repeatedly sought out the delegated individuals to no avail,” the official statement of the Pep Squad said.
“And after many weeks, months, and now a year of waiting, our issues and questions remain unresolved. Reared in the institution we represent, we abide with our principles of honor and integrity, and stay true to our word of foregoing with the competition, should the same organizers be hired to handle the event again.”
And with that, this year’s competition, set to be held on Saturday, November 19, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, has lost one of its performers.
And still the brave men and women of the UP Pep Squad continue to fight for their rights.
October 25, 2016 – Blue Eagle Gym, Quezon City
Prior to this season, the National University Taekwondo program had been the cellar-dwellers of the UAAP Taekwondo Championships. The team had made its debut during the 75th season of the league but has only compiled a total of four series wins out of 24 contests.
Then came coach Jeffrey Figueroa.
Figueroa had helped steer the University of the East Lady Red Jins to the championship a season ago with an immaculate 6-0 record. But due to unforeseen circumstances, the decorated mentor transferred to Jhocson Street to develop the young NU program.
“Malaking adjustment dahil una, hindi ako gumawa ng pundasyon nila tapos yung morale nila down dahil dati last placer sila. Pero hindi sila mahirap maging estudyante dahil naniniwala sila sa mga sinasabi ko at alam ko pareho kami ng pangarap,” the multi-titled mentor shared. “Sumama naman sila. So, sa akin, naging madali at naging mahaba pa yung nine months. Nagsisimula pa lang kami, next year ulit at sa mga iba pang tournament.”
He was able to replicate the same magic with the Lady Bulldogs. Led by lightweight Shiryl Badol, they were able to sweep the entire competition, highlighted by masterful wins over UP and De La Salle University – both powerhouse teams from seasons past.
“Actually deserve nila ito. Kahit nine months preparation lang ginawa namin, yung mind-setting ng mga players ko sa championship talaga,” he told Tiebreaker Times.
Badol left the stacked lightweight division unscathed en route to the MVP tiara.
October 24, 2016 – Rizal Memorial Swimming Pool, Manila City
14 of 21 gold medals. Eight records broken.
The record-breaking, hit-making Ateneo Blue Eagles continue their dominance in the swimming competition after securing a rare three-peat.
“We’re happy to get the title again. Every one worked hard, so we deserve it,” King Eagle Axel Ngui said. “We made sure everyone has a goal, and everyone worked on that goal. It’s not just me who will be leaving Ateneo a legacy, every one of us has something to do with this legacy.”
As the team goals were crafted, individual interests were put aside. Both Ngui and reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player, two-time Olympic veteran Jessie Lacuna had to make sacrifices. Instead of competing in seven individual events, both only participated in five to enable them to compete in two relay events where they could establish a mark that will stay on for some time.
Last season, amidst setting countless of new UAAP records, the Blue Eagles missed the gold in only two events, one of which was a relay event – the 200m Freestyle Relay. Knowing that some teams had loaded up in the sprint events, Ngui and Lacuna teamed up to hopefully contain the threat.
This enabled their younger teammates to step up and contribute to the overall effort of the team. UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year Alberto Batungbacal rose to the challenge and even emerged as this season’s Most Valuable Player with 95 points. Batungbacal, who had been denied the MVP crown several times back in his stint with the Ateneo Junior Tankers, finally took home the ultimate individual prize.
For his part, Batungbacal broke three UAAP records. He clocked in at 16:42.61 during the Men’s 1500m Freestyle while also shattering the Men’s 100m Breaststroke and the Men’s 200m Breaststroke record.
October 24, 2016 – Rizal Memorial Swimming Pool, Manila City
Down 322-332 entering the final day of competitions, the UP Lady Maroons needed a clutch performance to snap the Ateneo Lady Eagles’ hopes of a third straight championship. And they were able to do so after snatching four out of the five gold medals at stake during the final day.
Nadine Tee Ten (28.11) narrowly edged Ateneo’s Andrea Ngui (28.16) and Shaye Uy (28.18) in the 50m Freestyle. The 400m Medley Relay team of Anna Bartolome, Rodgers, Gabriela Torres, and Monica Padilla comfortably finished ahead in 4:40.80. Ateneo was second in 4:51.35 while UST took the bronze in 4:55.83.
In what could be considered a major upset in the tournament, returning Lady Maroon Delia Cordero, a former Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, finished ahead of Ateneo’s back to back MVP Hannah Dato (2:27.33) in the 200m Butterfly by clocking in at 2:23.48. This was the first and only event in which Dato did not win the gold medal in her three years in the league. She later revealed that she had been nursing an injury entering the tournament. Romina Gavino of Ateneo finished third in 2:27.85.
But as mentioned, it was the 200m Breaststroke that turned things around for the Lady Maroons as they managed a 1-2-3-4 finish in the event. All UP bets made it to the finals and finished ahead of all other competitors. Pricilla Aquino ruled it in 2:48.29 followed by Rodgers (2:48.40), Alyssa Pogiongko (2:51.35) and Kristina Bartolome (2:53.95).
“Masaya kami na nakuha namin ‘yung title after two years. Pinaghirapan namin ‘to sa training – morning and evening – running, weights at swim,” team captain Joy Rodgers said.
The UAAP Season 79 Swimming Championships tiara is their sixth in nine years.
October 26, 2016 – Blue Eagle Gym, Quezon City
Some good things must come to an end, while some must be rekindled.
After defending champions De La Salle University Green Paddlers made history as the first sixth-seeds to enter the Finals of the UAAP men’s table tennis tournament, winning five straight do-or-die ties in the process, the run was eventually stopped by a hungry pack of Tigers.
The University of Santo Tomas Tiger Paddlers completed a 16-0 sweep of the season after dominating DLSU in two ties, en route to ending their three-year title drought, Wednesday, at the Blue Eagle Gym.
“Sobrang saya po. Lahat po nung pinaghirapan namin, lumabas po lahat and nanalo po kami. Nakuha po namin [yung championship.],” MVP Norielle Pantoja said.
“Nakita ko sa kanila na seryoso sila, tapos talagang determinado talaga kaming manalo kasi bawat isa sa min … ‘Kuya, laban tayo. Ganito, laban tayo.’ Talagang buo yung loob namin na dapat manalo kami.”
Pantoja, together with Gil Ablanque, Adolfo Bazar, and doubles specialist Oneal Maldia, never buckled as they swept the Green Paddlers in both ties.
This is UST’s 26th crown in the UAAP Table Tennis competition.