• B Bonanza National Open begins

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    Malvinne “Poca” Alcala CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Malvinne “Poca” Alcala CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    The P1.5 million Bingo Bonanza National Open badminton tournament fires off today with 33 singles matches on tap in the busy morning play alone with the country’s finest shuttlers and rising stars taking center stage at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Center.

    Mark Alcala slugs it out with Neil Pineda in one of the three matches set at 9 a.m. with the recent Singapore Youth champion hoping to shrug off jitters and live up to the hype against a slew of fancied bets in the full-packed 64-player men’s singles roster.

    Jon Masongson, a teammate of Alcala at Allied Victor, takes on Johnrick Macabenta of Adamson while Ateneo’s Clarence Filart faces Benjamin Silva of Team Prima in the two other pairings kicking off the opener of the four-day ranking championship sponsored by Bingo Bonanza Corp.

    Allied Victor’s Malvinne “Poca” Alcala, unseeded but tipped to crowd the top-ranked bets in the 32-player women’s singles draw, sets out against Ateneo mainstay Dia Magno at 12:30 p.m. with the winner advancing against Adamson’s Mika Aquino, who drew a bye in the opener of the tournament sanctioned by the Philippine Badminton Association headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Secretary General Rep. Albee Benitez and organized by EventKing Corp.

    Gelita Castilo, also of Allied Victor, mixes it up with Golden Shuttle Foundation’s Sam Ramos; Ateneo’s Cassandra Lim collides with Smash Pilipinas’ Alyssa Geverjuan; Patrisha Malibiran, also of Ateneo, takes on Smash Pilipinas’ Mariya Sevilla; while Adamson’s Jhay Anne Macabenta tests Team Prima’s Annelyn Alba’s mettle.

    Men’s singles top seed Toby Gadi gets to see action in afternoon play, taking on the winner of the Masongsong-Macabenta duel while No. 8 Wilson Lopez will tangle with the victor in the Silva-Filart duel.

    Twelve men’s doubles matches are also on tap in the day with Mark Alcala teaming up with Theodore Co against Jaime Junio and Anggy Sepdianto at 12:40 p.m. with the winners meeting the top-seeded pair of Joper Escueta and Ronel Estanislao in a key matchup tomorrow.

    Peter Magnaye and Paul Vivas, winners of the recent Swiss International, will strut their wares tomorrow when they battle the winners in the Lance Bautista-Judd Reyes vs Mike Minuluan-Alem Palmares clash today.

    The National Open marks the return of the country’s premier gaming and amusement center as badminton’s chief backer. Bingo Bonanza used to stage big-time badminton tournaments, including the Philippine Open in 2009 that lured some of the world’s premier players.

    Benitez, however, said the PBA is now focusing on putting up bigger national tournaments and has temporarily shelved plans of staging the more expensive international events to upgrade and develop local players until they can really compete with the foreign aces.

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