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Ghicka Bernabe gets fitting send-off as NU Pep Squad back as UAAP cheerdance champ

The NU Pep Squad is back on top of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. Jade Moya
By Dugout Philippines

PASAY—National University Pep Squad produced a lively and synchronized "Cheer-obics" performance to annex the UAAP Season 85 cheerdance crown before 18,029 fans Saturday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Riding on a strong showing on dance, which coach Ghicka Bernabe emphasized prior to the competition, stunts, pyramids, and tosses, NU's high-risk, high-reward showing gave its decorated cheerdancers 723 points to end Far Eastern University Cheering Squad's six-month reign in the league's biggest special event.

The victory served as a fitting send-off for Bernabe, who is stepping down as NU Pep Squad head coach after this season as she is set to get married soon.

"Yung happiness ko mas malaki sa arena," said Bernabe, who steered NU Pep Squad to seven titles in nine seasons. "It's a milestone for me as a coach."

Paying homage to the late rap great Francis M., FEU recorded 719 points, thanks to its solid tumblings.

"Yung fact na nag-first runner-up ay bonus na sa amin ito," said coach Randel San Gregorio.

The Lady Gaga-inspired performance gave University of Santo Tomas Salinggawi Dance Troupe's best performance in five years, as it reached the podium with 640 points.

"Gratitude and being proud I am. It's really overwhelming, it's amazing," said UST coach Mark Chaiwalla.

With seven titles, NU moved closer to UST and University of the Philippines Pep Squad, which are still tied as the most successful cheerdance squads with eight.

Both San Gregorio and Chaiwalla paid tribute to the legacy left by Bernabe, not only in the UAAP but to the Philippine cheering community.

"She is the heart and soul of NU," said San Gregorio on Bernabe, who is an FEU alumna.

University of the East Pep Squad placed fourth with 606.5, followed by Adamson Pep Squad (595), UP Pep Squad (575.5), DLSU Animo Squad (528.5), and Ateneo Blue Eagles (502.5).

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