MANILA, Philippines – National University (NU) turned back defending men's champion Ateneo, 3-2, to clinch an outright Finals berth in the UAAP Season 77 badminton tournament Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
The Bulldogs, who won the title in Season 75 behind MVP Joper Escueta, swept all their seven elimination round matches and will have a thrice-to-beat advantage against the No. 2 team in the championship.
With former Rookie of the Year winner Gerald Sibayan leading the way, De La Salle University bounced back from last week's shutout loss to NU by beating Far Eastern University, 5-0, and finished second with a 6-1 card.
The Green Archers will hold a twice-to-beat bonus in the stepladder semi-finals next week.
University of the Philippines (UP), meanwhile, prevailed over the University of Santo Tomas, 4-1, in their do-or-die match for the last semi-finals berth.
Finishing the single round robin elimination at 5-2, the Blue Eagles settled for the No. 3 seed and will take on the Fighting Maroons in the first stepladder match.
The survivor of the Ateneo-UP duel will face La Salle in another stepladder showdown.
The Growling Tigers bowed out of contention with their fourth loss in seven games in fifth spot.