Letran's table tennis players line up for NCAA Season 93 tourney. Photo from Head Coach Noel Gonzales
With a close match in the finals last season, College of Saint Benilde and Colegio de San Juan de Letran crossed paths anew in the championship round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 93 men’s table tennis tournament last September 20.
Although Letran was already on the brink to claim the title, the Knights instantly fell at the hands of the Blazers - the same team they fought in the finals last season.
Benilde’s Ryan Jacolo defeated Jethro Gapas, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7; while Serknight Banoya outlasted William Mañago, 11-9, 11-6, 13-11, in their respective singles matches at the Harrison Plaza in Manila.
But the tandem of Benjiecer Lim and John Pansacula kept Letran alive a fruitful four-set win against Vince Sy and Joshua Padilla, 11-4, 13-11, 11-9.
Letran attempted to snatch two more wins to stop Benilde’s spectacular run as Mañago clinched another spot in a third singles match against Jacolo. But the three-time MVP Jacolo towed the Blazers to the victory after a momentous 11-2, 11-3, 11-8 triumph over Mañago for a 3-1 win that gave them the coveted title.
However, Letran’s head coach Noel Gonzales remained positive despite the loss, insisting they did their best to try and bag the championship title for the Colegio.
“Proud pa rin ako sa kanila,” said Gonzales after the game. “Gayunpaman, sabi ko sa players, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Ang importante they did their best. Di lang tayo pinalad, so next year bawi na lang tayo,” he bared.
Gonzales then stressed that the team will still have the services of Pansacula and Mañago next year who are considered to be in the driver’s seat of their title campaign in Season 94. Nonetheless, the men’s table tennis team dedicated their 1st runner-up finish to Jethro Gapas and team captain Erick Gonzales who played their final year in the NCAA.
Though falling short in his retaliation match, Mañago emphasized the major improvement he saw from his teammates, saying, “Compared last year, sobrang laki ng improvement ng lahat. Tingin ko mas maganda yung pinakita namin this season. Talagang nag-contribute lahat.”
Meanwhile, the women’s team finished third place in the standings, while the Letran Squires came in fourth in the junior’s division. Trixie Catapang, team captain of the women’s team, also commended the performance of the whole squad in the said tournament.
“Hindi lang naman yung trophy yung nagpapatunay ng pagiging champion. Yung hard work, teamwork, confidence at glory kay God ang totoong champion,” Catapang said. “At yun ang ipinakita ng bawat isa,” she ended.