It was another astonishing season for the Green and Lady Judokas as they showcased their talent after much preparation for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78 Judo Championship held last November 18- 19 at the St. Benilde Gym, LSGH hosted by the De La Salle University in partnership with the Philippine Judo Federation.
The Office of the Sports Development (OSD) staff, alumni of the DLSU Judo team, members of the Judo Club, together with the help of the President of the Philippine Judo Federation, Dave Carter were united to make it possible to run the tournament smoothly.
After five years, De La Salle University hosted the UAAP Judo Championship once again. This year’s hosting was evidently improved because the technology and software used was the latest International Judo Federation software provided by the Philippine Judo Federation. The draw and arrangements of matches, fights order shown on the screen, and improvised video for replay were used to efficiently manage the tournament.
The Green and Lady Judokas looked to standout in the elimination matches to easily clinch the medal matches but in the first day of the event, the teams suffered a string of setbacks that slowly nipped away their chances of a large medal haul. After two years of residency, Green Judoka veteran Adrian Perillo (-60 kg) wasn’t able to set his momentum and fell to Marco Lasam of Ateneo De Manila University.
On the other hand, the tide turned after Edward Borja (-66 kg) won two matches in the elimination round. However, he still failed to get the bronze medal after receiving a penalty against Nathaniel Morales of University of the East (UE). Before the day ended, first medal for the Seniors Men’s Division was bagged by David Gordon (-55 kg) after overpowering Raul Baldos of UE for the bronze medal match.
Most of the Judokas lined-up for the women’s division lacked experienced but they showed perseverance on the Matts. Their performance had a good start but still failed to obtain victory in the semifinal round. Earning the first medal for the Women’s seniors division was Rookie Camille Cardona (-44 kg) who went up against with her fellow DLSU Lady Judoka Andrea Lim in the Bronze Medal match.
The rookie player Charmea Quelino fought against Co-Captain Freesia Heradez for the bronze medal in the -52kg category. Quelino failed to get a medal at the start of the season. While Heradez clinched her first medal in her UAAP career.
Glorious Victory for Green Judokas
The Second day was the most crucial day of the event in aiming to get more medals for each category to be able to finish at the podium. The beginning of the campaign was a good start for the first UAAP Season of Norman Chua (-73kg) who beat Raynato Pedrajeta of Adamson University and Niko Istrael of (UE) while team captain Michael Borja (-73 kg) failed to advance in the elimination round after losing to Lucky Flores of University of Santo Tomas (UST). Team captain Borja suffered a sprained ligament on his right shoulder after his lost against UST. He shrugged off his injury and consistently proved himself and fought against Abdul Noor of (UE) but suffered defeat and was eliminated in the round.
Last year’s rookie of the year Vince David (-81kg) dominated his first game against Luis Benitez of (UE) and won the quarterfinals versus Nikole Ong of (UST). Unfortunately he lost in the semi final rounds and fell out against Alfred Querubin of (ADMU). However he still earned the second medal for the Green Judokas and won a bronze medal against Harmon Tuazon of (ADMU).
In the gold medal matches they queued Norman Chua (-73 kg) and Keith Reyes (+100 kg) to give two gold medals for the team. As the first experience of Norman Chua to compete in the UAAP fell short and lost his final match against Carl Dave Aseneta of (UP) and bagged silver as his first medal in the UAAP.
Despite all the bad luck that seemed to be holding the team back, one Judoka escaped unscathed as Keith Reyes (+100 kg) came out as the only bright star from DLSU as he successfully finished with his division’s gold medal and overpowered Rafael Cadiente of (ADMU) on the final match.
Lady Judokas Unfortunate Campaign
Despite the insufficient line-up of Lady Judokas for their heavy weight division, the incomplete La Salle contingent started out strong. For the heavy weight division Andreana Santos (-63 kg) finished her first match by winning against Chloe Grospe of (UE) but wasn’t able to win and fell short against Kayla Amado of (UP).
The Team captain Christine Valencia (-57 kg) failed to defeat her ace opponent Tracy Honorio of (UST) followed by the fall of Maria Baguisi against Lorelei Tolento also from (UST) after winning her first assignment against Carmela Tagle of (UE). Lady Judokas’ Arian Galfo (-70kg) and Angel Recaro (-63kg) also failed to triumph over their assignments despite giving it their all.
Meanwhile, veteran Justine Pongase (+78 kg) of DLSU was a favorite to win gold in her third straight season. Unfortunately, Pongase’s defeat during her first match against Jamaika Ponciano was unexpected, ending her campaign to bag the gold medal. However she outgunned Renielyn Castillo of (UST) for the bronze medal on her last UAAP playing year. Pongase’s last season meant a lot to her to be able to contribute on her last campaign and be able to motivate her teammates to catch the podium finish next season.
The Green Judokas placed 3rd after earning a total of 19 points only a hair away from the University of the Philippines with 18 points. The Lady Judokas placed 5th and failed to finish on the podium again this season and earned a total of eight points. The DLSU Judo team Coach Sam Bernales shares that Judo is a sport that is very unpredictable, “ One thing is for sure, the winner will always have the strong will to win regardless of the technique” said Bernales.
Coach Bernales is looking forward to improve the eagerness and attitude of his players to win and train hard for the next season. He also wants to expose his players for the upcoming local tournaments to be able to develop them.