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NU begins bid for men's badminton back-to-back; UP opens women's title defense too

MANILA--National University opens its title-retention campaign in the men's division against an old nemesis in Ateneo on Saturday in the UAAP Season 78 badminton tournament at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

The Bulldogs and the Blue Eagles, who cross paths in the Finals two years ago, collide at 10 a.m.

Other men's division opening day ties scheduled on the same time are De La Salle-University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas-University of the East and Adamson University-Far Eastern University.

With two-time MVP Joper Escueta already completed his playing eligibility, NU will now rely on holdovers Peter Magnaye, Ross Leeward Pedrosa and last year's top rookie Alvin Morada.

The Bulldogs capped a dominating men's badminton campaign in Season 77 with a two-game championship sweep against the Green Archers for their second championship in three years. NU won all of its nine ties in that season.

Playing on his final season, skipper Gerald Sibayan will lead the way for La Salle, which went up three notches higher from a fifth place finish two years ago. 

The Lady Maroons, meanwhile, open their quest for a back-to-back women's title romp against the Lady Tamaraws at 2:30 p.m.

Other season-opening women's ties lined up at the same time are the Lady Eagles-Lady Archers, Tigresses-Lady Warriors and Lady Falcons-Lady Bulldogs.

UP banked on last season's MVP Jessie Francisco to dethrone Ateneo and end a 14-year title drought via a nine-game sweep.