MANILA, Philippines – National University leaned on the duo of rookie Solomon Padiz Jr and graduating senior Keeyan Gabuelo to snare their sixth consecutive UAAP men's badminton title, 3-1, over Ateneo on Saturday, October 5 at the PNP Sports Center Badminton Courts.
After failing to finish the match in the second game despite 3 match points, the Bulldogs pair closed out the series with a huge 21-14 win over Keoni Asuncion and Arthur Salvado.
“They always encounter that kind of situation. When it’s crunchtime, they feel the pressure,” NU head coach Jaime Llanes said in Filipino.
But it hardly matters as NU quickly recovered, but Llanes admits that the Bulldogs were tested this season.
“I’m just happy with the boys because they really stepped up even if it was a tight game,” he said.
Gabuelo and Padiz opened the second doubles match with a 21-17 win before Asuncion and Salvado snagged the second at 23-21.
With their spectacular campaign, Gabuelo was named the Most Valuable Player while Padiz took the Rookie of the Year honors.
The win is the Bulldogs' 51st straight since UAAP Season 77. Moreover, NU tied Ateneo for most championships in the league's men's badminton tournament with 6 crowns.
Padiz earlier leveled the tie after stunning Asuncion in just two games, 21-9, 21-14, in the second singles match, before fellow freshmen James Villarante and Julius Villabrille sent NU to the brink of the championship with a 21-18, 23-21 decision over Geno Cariño and Fides Bagasbas.
Ateneo captain Bagasbas opened the day with an upset of opposing skipper Gabuelo, 21-19, 11-21, 21-18, in the first singles rubber.