Ateneo survives long stepladder playoffs, enters UAAP men's badminton finals

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Ateneo braved an "extended" UAAP men's badminton stepladder playoffs to clinch the seconds finals berth at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

The Blue Eagles' elimination of the UP Maroon Smashers in the semifinals over the weekend completed a string of four do-or-die wins for them to earn the right to face the NU Bulldogs in the best-of-three finals starting Tuesday at the said venue.

Ateneo first eliminated UST, 3-1, in the wildcard playoff on Oct. 2 before needing five matches to beat La Salle, 3-2, in the second wildcard phase on Wednesday, clinching it via Hanz Bernardo's third singles win against Andrew Pineda.

The Eagles snapped the Smashers' twice-to-beat advantage on Saturday with a 3-1 win in the first semifinal tie capped by hard-fought victories in both doubles matches.

Ateneo completed the semifinal win after a 3-2 win against UP on Sunday with Bernardo playing the hero anew with the deciding third singles victory against Wilson Lopez.

The Eagles will now set their sights on snapping the Bulldogs' 25-tie winning run dating back to 2014 in the opener of the championship round.

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