MANILA – Ateneo de Manila University banked on Lance Vargas to dethrone National University (NU), 3-2, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 86 men's badminton at Centro Atletico Badminton Center in Cubao, Quezon City late Saturday night.
The 19-year-old rookie from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental defeated Mark Velasco, 10-21, 21-9, 21-13, in the last singles match as the Blue Eagles clinched their sixth title in 10 years.
"I was actually shocked by my performance, but my mindset heading into the game was just do my best and whatever the outcome is, I will just enjoy the game. It was the most important match because it's do-or-die, so I just focused on every point and, eventually, won it," said Vargas.
Team captain Arthur Salvado Jr. downed Zed Monterubio, 21-12, 21-17, and Lyrden Laborte rallied past rookie MJ Perez, 17-21, 21-3, 21-4, to give Ateneo a 2-0 lead.
But NU levelled after national athletes Julius Villabrille and James Villarante beat Salvado and Vargas, 21-15, 21-16, and Season 85 Most Valuable Player Solomon Padiz Jr. and Perez downed Laborte and Charles Bagasbas, 21-13, 21-14.
"I'm very happy with how the boys performed. I always knew that they had it in them, and they finally showed it. I'm beyond proud of the team," Ateneo head coach Kennie Asuncion said after the match.
Ateneo’s other players are Justin Vanzuela (co-captain), Allen Penute, Cody Torres, and Earl Nathan Santos.
University of the Philippines (UP) blanked University of Santo Tomas (UST), 3-0, to finish third for the second straight season.
Kervin Llanes outplayed Sean Dela Cruz, 21-14, 21-11, and Jelo Albo prevailed over Lennox Cuilao, 21-9, 21-12, in the first two singles.
Llanes and Albo trounced Kyle Adriel Basilio and Munir Bartolome, 21-17, 21-13, in the lone doubles match.
Meanwhile, Ateneo clobbered Far Eastern University, 79-66, at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday to complete the semifinal cast in women's basketball.
Kacey Dela Rosa had 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for the Lady Eagles, who improved their record to 8-4.
The other semifinalists are NU (11-1), UP and UST, both sporting 9-3 cards.
"That was our initial goal, to make the Final Four so we made the last bus... Last year, we were just happy to make the Final Four but now, we're looking forward to more," Ateneo head coach LA Mumar said.
Joann Nagma finished with 18 points while Shane Salvani and Jaina Del Prado added 12 and 10 points, respectively for the Tamaraws, who tied the Adamson University Lady Falcons in fifth place at 3-9. (PNA)