MANILA, Philippines -- University of Santo Tomas (UST) turned a heartbreaking loss into another championship, taking down rival National University (NU), 2-1, in the best-of-three finals of the UAAP Season 82 men's table tennis tournament, Wednesday at the Blue Eagle Gym.
This is the Tiger Paddlers' second straight championship and 28th overall.
Graduating senior Raymark Mabuang closed out both the second and third ties of the championship to gift the UST the record-setting plum.
The Thomasian standout took down Romualdo Ramiro Jr. in a match that ended at 12-10, before taking another four-set win over Louis Llamas in that final tie.
For his valiant stand, Mabuang earned the Most Valuable Player award.
The doubles tandem of Mcleen Dizon and Prince Garcia was the difference in both ties as they turned it around with wins for the 2-1 leads for UST.
The Thomasians came back from a set down and swept Franz Mogol and Harold Celeridad after the break. They then dominated Jon Sinchongco and Celeridad in just three sets later that afternoon.
Long-time mentor Jackson Que was proud that his team came up with another championship. "Two months before the UAAP, talagang nagbago tayo ng lineup agad. So, nasira 'yung plan natin," he shared.
"Pero thank God, nabuo pa rin 'yung team at nag-perform pa rin 'yung mga players."
It was a golden double for UST, as their women's team fended off a gallant challenge from Ateneo de Manila University for their 13th title.
The heavily favored Tigresses had to battle the first-time finalists in two grueling ties, also on Wednesday.
"Masaya kasi ang pinaka-aim ng UST is mag-champion both men's and women's. And the women's they did not let it go. Fight pa rin sila kahit lamang na 'yung kalaban," said head coach Lorinda Wadjad.
The Tigresses needed to dig deep to outlast the Lady Eagles.
Tigress Paddler Danica Alburo turned back two match points from Lady Eagle Kathleene Bulaquena to eventually took the win for UST at 14-12 in the fifth set of the deciding singles match at the afternoon's tie.
Ateneo earlier threatened to extend the series as eventual-Rookie of the Year Kaela Aguilar and fellow newbie Ann Borbon put their squad up 2-0. Aguilar outlasted Sherlyn Gabisay in five sets, while Borbon edged out Ciara Derecho in four.
Nonetheless, Leigh Villanueva and Emery Digamon pulled through for the Tigresses in the doubles match at 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8, and set up the stage for a comeback for Shaeena Ronquillo and Alburo.
Ronquillo earlier denied Bulaquena in the morning's deciding singles match at 11-9 in the fifth game to take the 1-0 series lead for UST.
With her wins and more importantly her leadership, sophomore team captain Gabisay bagged the Most Valuable Player award.
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