Top seed Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) Knights survived the defending champions De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (CSB) Blazers, 2-1, to force a quadruple tie on top in the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s badminton tournament at the Rizal Badminton Hall on Sunday.
CSB’s Austin Sangalang ruled the first set against Mark Sabarre in the first singles, 17-21. Sabarre then edged Sangalang in the last two sets, 21-19, 21-19, to notch the first win for the Knights.
Lance Bautista and Dominic Santos forced a deciding match after overpowering Letran’s Melvin Sarao and Nathali Pineda in doubles, 17-21, 8-21.
Letran Knight Nepthali Pineda outsmarted Lorenzo Yason in the first set of the tiebreaker, 21-16. However, Yason retaliated in the second frame, 17-21. Pineda then extended their campaign in the second round, dispatching Yason in the third set, 21-15.
“Well, we lost to San Beda since my doubles got pressured and lost their match. So my plan is that, we have to win against Benilde and Lyceum, the second seed, so that we can automatically win the championship and avoid the playoffs on Wednesday afternoon,” said Letran head coach Jojo Mance.
Early in the first tie, San Beda College (SBC) Red Lions handed Letran its first loss in the season, 2-1.
Sabarre clinched the first set against San Beda’s Alberto Hilario, 21-15, but Hilario took the next set, 18-21. The Letran Knight then trounced Hilario in the last set, 21-12, to claim the victory for Letran.
The San Beda Red Lions completed a come from behind victory after Jade Carillo, Ian Razal and Jovan Cruz beat the Pineda brothers and Leo Jeff Orsolino in straight sets, respectively.
“My players have to focus on Wednesday, especially when they face Lyceum whose No.1 player is really strong. They don’t have to relax because this tournament will not be over as long as the games are not finished yet. They have to play their game, continue what they’ve started, and just focus,” Mance said.
The CSJL Knights, CSB Blazers, SBC Red Lions, and Lyceum of the Philippines (LPU) Pirates were all tied with 1-1 win-loss cards in the second round.
Should the Knights and the Blazers win their matches on Wednesday, Letran will claim the championship. But should the Red Lions and the Pirates won; LPU will face Letran in the playoffs.
In the women’s division, the CSB Lady Blazers and the Arellano University (AU) Lady Chiefs remained undefeated in the second round with 2-0 cards after securing wins over LPU Lady Pirates and Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) Lady Cardinals.
“We are hoping that we’ll be able to sweep the second round again because we’re still one game away and we need to play against the Arellano ladies. If we would be able to pull that game off, well, we will get the championship,” said CSB head coach Lloyd Escoses.
The NCAA badminton tournament will end on Wednesday at the same venue.