(Photo by Jed Aquino) Poised to redeem themselves after coming off a lackluster finish in the preceding season, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Shuttlers had a hot opening to start the UAAP Season 81. Their inspired campaign had all the indications of a podium finish, if not a championship. They started with a victory, before winning two of their next three.
However, what looked to be a promising season ended up in a heartbreak. Instead, the Taft-based squad absorbed a premature exit despite a strong showing from then graduating team captain Cayel Pajarillo. They lost to the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles in the first step ladder match to finish the season at fourth.
DLSU Green Shuttlers in Season 81: finished the eliminations 4-2, lost to ADMU to finish 5th
With their campaign underway, the Green Shuttlers come into Season 82 with a renewed sense of focus as well as a new set of personnel.
LOOKING FOR CONSISTENCY
Their disappointing finish despite a strong start reflected the Green Shuttlers’ inconsistency last season. None other than head coach Owen Lopez himself noted, “Sometimes ang nangyayari sa amin is malakas sa umpisa, biglang nawawalan ng dulo.” But, Lopez also added that the team worked on it during the offseason.
Holdovers: Eljee Gavile, Bless Linaban, Andrew Pineda
Additions: Hanz Bernardo, Clark Golez, Jan-e Mangubat, Joshua Morada, Yugin Tan
Departures: Louie Kharial, Paolo Malabanan, Cayel Pajarillo
With the departure of some seniors including Pajarillo, the Green Shuttlers will now rely on some new faces to help lift the team this season. The Taft-based squad had two key additions in the offseason in former Blue Eagles Hanz Bernardo and Jan-e Mangubat. The latter will be taking the mantle as the team captain.
Despite not playing last season after serving a year of residency, Mangubat had been actively observing from the sidelines and taking notes of the team’s struggles. “From what I observed from the previous season, the team lacked consistency, relationship, and acceptance.” Mangubat, who will be bringing in to the team his rich UAAP experience, stressed the importance of the team believing in one another as well as having the confidence to stay consistent. He added, “We should have the composure and confidence for us to be consistent all throughout the season.”
Bernardo and Mangubat were part of the Ateneo team that eliminated the Green Shuttlers in the quarterfinals three years ago. The same Blue Eagles team went on to the Finals, but lost to National University.
EXPECTATIONS AND OUTLOOK
With Season 82 just around the corner, Lopez is hopeful that his squad will be more prepared and can finish with a better standing. He acknowledges the huge pressure on his players, but is confident that they will do their best and move towards the team’s goals. “Ayaw naman namin na mabigyan ng pressure yung mga players, pero siyempre alam naman nila (kung) ano yung main goal ng team,” the amiable tactician said.
The DLSU Green Shuttlers will face the ADU Soaring Falcons tomorrow, September 18, 8 AM the Centro Athletico Badminton Court.