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Combining smarts and strength, National University overwhelmed University of the East, 35-10, last Sunday to capture its first junior men’s division championship in the MVPSF-Meralco Philippine Taekwondo League at SM City-Sucat Mall in Parañaque.
Under the tutelage of coach Jeff Figueroa, the NU jins swept their three matches in lopsided fashion, capped by their finals rout of the defending champions in ruling the competition supported by the MVP Sports Foundation and Meralco.
La Salle Greenhills turned back Far Eastern University-FERN, 53-35, to take the bronze medal in the event organized by the Philippine Taekwondo Association and backed by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission.
Aside from the championship trophy and medals, the members of the NU squad were also given a Myphone each as part of their prizes.
“We studied all of our rivals thoroughly and their weaknesses. It was not much about our strength and stamina but more of our mental toughness and strategy,” noted Figuerora, who used to be the UE coach before taking over the NU squad this season.
UE head coach Joenell Rendora, who was Figueroa’s assistant, cited the graduation of most of his veterans from last year’s champion squad as the major reason why they could not match their NU rivals.
“Marami pong nag-graduate sa amin. At magaling po talaga si coach Jeff,” Rendora said.
Earning PTL men’s junior Most Valuable Player honors was NU squad sophomore Sturdy Valenzuela, who staked the Bullpups to an early 3-0 lead against UE’s Jerico Sy in the opening bout of the championship match.
After teammate Kurt Barbosa padded the lead to 6-1 against Lawrence Borres, towering Troy Austero piled up the points in outclassing UE’s Kurt Pajuelas, erecting a comfortable 21-4 edge that virtually sealed the deal for the NU warriors.
In the team poomsae eliminations, La Salle, FEU and NU advanced to the finals scheduled on Saturday at the SM South Mall in Las Piñas.
Completing the six-team finals cast are University of the Philippines, College of St. Benilde and University Santo Tomas.
Also slated on the SM South Mall on Saturday is the women’s senior division championship followed by the senior men’s division championship on Sunday.