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Dismayed UP skips event

National University is favored to extend its title reign following the absence of University of the Philippines in the highly-anticipated UAAP cheerdance competition slated today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

UP opted to skip one of the league’s top-grossing events in dismay over the league’s failure to act on the protest it filed following NU’s much-disputed victory in last season’s competition.

Many observers thought UP won the cheering competition, but judges awarded the title to NU despite some flaws in its performance, while UP dropped to third.

With UP out, NU could have an easy route towards a fourth straight crown, a feat last achieved by the University of Santo Tomas when it won five in a row from 2002 to 2006.

But UST, last year’s runner-up, and fourth placer Far Eastern University are eager to deliver awe-inspiring performances in the hope of ending NU’s reign.

La Salle, Ateneo, Adamson and University of the East, non-traditional powerhouses in the sport, are hopeful of stealing the show or at least to give an expected big crowd at the Big Dome a respectable act.

But all eyes will be on NU, which is perhaps determined to prove why it has ruled the event the last three years.

NU, coached by former FEU cheerleader Ghicka Bernabe, underwent an intense preparation with the goal of proving critics wrong.

Today’s 2 p.m. festivities is a break from the action in the men’s basketball tournament, where the league had just finished its double-round eliminations.

The Final Four will start on Wednesday with top seed La Salle taking on Adamson while Ateneo faces defending champion FEU in the other pairing set Saturday. Both will be at the Mall of Asia Arena.

La Salle and Ateneo need one victory to arrange a title showdown. A win by either Adamson, FEU or both will forge a knockout match on Nov. 30 at the Big Dome.