MANILA, Philippines - Joper Escueta pulled off two victories as National U eked out a 3-2 win over Ateneo to capture the men’s crown in the UAAP badminton tournament at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall yesterday.
Escueta and Aries delos Santos fought back from a set down to repulse Toby Gadi and Patrick Natividad, 15-21, 21-16, 21-14, in the second doubles to force a decider.
Escueta then drubbed Justin Natividad, 21-5, 21-6, in the third singles to seal the championship for NU.
It was the Bulldogs’ first badminton crown and it avenged their loss to the Eagles in last year’s finale.
“We were pressure but they gave their all and played with a big fighting heart,” said NU coach Jojo Mance in Filipino.
Escueta, a national team mainstay, took the MVP honors.
Like in Game 2, the Bulldogs fell, 0-2, but rebounded to sweep the next three matches.
Ateneo won the first two singles as Patrick Natividad defeated Jayson Oba-ob, 21-16, 21-15, and Gadi beat Andrei Babad, 21-17, 21-13.
The duo of Babad and Oba-ob, however, stopped the Eagles’ run as they routed JC Carlos and Arlo Madrid, 21-8, 21-8, in the first doubles.
NU finished its season with a 9-1 record, its lone loss dealt by Ateneo via a 3-0 romp.
Carlos Cayanan and John Kenneth Monterubio of third placer La Salle were named as the Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player, respectively.