National University (NU) and University of the Philippines (UP) will open their bid for their third consecutive title in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 badminton tournament today at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall in Manila.
The NU Bulldogs will face the Adamson University Soaring Falcons at 8 a.m., while the UP Lady Maroons will battle last season’s runner up the Ateneo Lady Eagles at 1 p.m.
New NU head coach Jaime Llanes said that he did several adjustments for his team.
“Three of my players (Keeyan Gabuelo, Roslee Pedrosa, and Alvin Morada) are part of the national team so they train regularly, while the game of others did not totally decline, but they were out of shape before so I had to do some adjustments,” said Llanes on Friday.
Llanes became the Bulldogs’ coach in February after Rupert Consunji, one of the managers of the NU badminton team, approached and offered him the job. He replaced Jojo Mance who is now the head coach of Colegio de San Juan de Letran badminton team.
“By that time, actually, I was not prepared to handle a UAAP team yet because I know the pressure and I also have a badminton academy (Jaime Llanes Training Center). I have taught kids but I never handled a UAAP team so at first, I had the doubt to accept it,” Llanes said in a phone interview.
Llanes added that he prepared a very rigorous training program for his team that he started to implement four months ago.
Llanes said that he doesn’t want to be overconfident that his team can sweep the elimination round, “We’re gonna play hard because we’re going for three-peat. We’re gonna really dive for every ball that our opponents will give. Fight for the win.”
He considers the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Shuttlers as one of the contenders for the title. “Every team is competitive and prepared for the season. But I watch out for Ateneo because I think, they really prepared well. They also recruited Indonesian players just to play with them.”
In the women’s division, UP head coach Tosi Alcasid said that last year’s lineup that won the title last season remained intact since no member of the Lady Maroons graduated. UP is also aiming for a three-peat.
“Aggressive training. Actually, we’re training every day and when some time in July came, we started to train twice a day,” Alcasid said in a phone interview. “They have to focus always and maintain the unity. It seemed that we’re prepared for this season.”