National University secured top seed in the playoffs of the UAAP Season 82 Men's Badminton Tournament, surviving an early scare against De La Salle University and take a 4-1 win, Saturday afternoon at PNP Sports Center.
The win, the Bulldogs' fifth of the season, granted them the number one seed and the twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals. On the other hand, the Green Shuttlers suffered their first loss.
Bulldogs head coach Jaime Llanes reminded the team to remain focused.
"Sabi ko sa kanila, huwag nilang isipin yung mag-number one kayo o ano mang placing. Ang importante, maglaro kayo ng pinaka-best niyo. Yun ang sa 'kin," he said.
A slow start from senior Keeyan Gabuelo put La Salle on top with Jan Mangubat. The La Salle captain took the first singles match at 22-20, 22-20.
From there, National University was unstoppable despite dropping the first games of the following matches.
Solomon Padiz Jr. upended Andrew Pineda at 19-21, 21-19, 21-17, in the following singles match, before fellow rookies Julius Villabrille and James Villarante stunned Mangubat and Christian Bernardo at 14-21, 21-13, 21-19 for the 2-1 lead.
With Gabuelo in the second doubles match, Padiz swept his assignments to bag yet another for the Bulldogs and defeated Pineda and Joshua Morada at 19-21, 21-15, 21-16. Thirdy Bacalso closed out the day with at 17-21, 21-9, 21-11 marathon over Bernardo.
Going into their final outing of the eliminations against University of Santo Tomas, Llanes wants the Bulldogs to stay hungry. "Dapat yung intensity nila same as Day One," he said.
Ateneo, on the other hand, clinched the third semifinals berth after taking down University of the Philippines, 3-2.
Keoni Asuncion turned a first-game loss to the win to put the Blue Eagles into the next round, defeating Michael Clemente at 21-23, 21-13, 21-16.
The Fighting Maroons got the first singles match as JM Bernardo outlasted Fides Bagasbas at 16-21, 21-18, 21-16, before rookie Arthur Salvado leveled the tie with a 21-13, 21-16 win over Jacob Tercias.
Ateneo gained the lead with Salvado and Asuncion overpowering Vinci Manuel and Clemente at 21-17, 21-10. Bernardo and Harvey Tungul, nonetheless, forced the decider at 21-17, 21-19 second doubles win over Geno Cariño and Bagasbas.
Completing the day, Adamson broke through the win column as they kept University of the East winless, 4-1.
Angelo David took another singles win for the Red Warriors against Aldous Mercado at 21-17, 21-16, but the Falcons soared in the other matches.
Elbren Concha opened the rout at 21-7, 21-12 over Edward Adriano, before taking the first doubles match with Johnrick Macabenta at 21-11, 21-10 over Adriano and Khristian Reyes.
Kevin Fabros and David Libanan then secured the win, dominating David and Jireh Ortega at 21-11, 21-17. Fabros closed out the rout at 21-14, 21-19 against Christian Garcia.