It all came down to the last minute of the last match.
Yesterday, at the UP CHK Gym, the Ateneo men's team and the UP women's team wrested their respective titles from reigning champion UST.
It began with a bang, when the UP men's team stunned UST, beating them, 3-2 (with two tied matches); the women's team followed suit. After that, it was anybody's game, as Ateneo and La Salle were also considered favorites to end UST's 6-year dominance of the men's division; UP would go on to sweep the women's division, gaining back the crown they lost to UST the year before.
Then, Ateneo beat UE, La Salle and UP in succession, UP beat UE and La Salle, and UST, recovering from the UP shocker, beat La Salle and UE. By the time, Ateneo faced UST, the last team match of the day, the records were: Ateneo 3-0, UP 3-1, UST 2-1, La Salle 2-2, and UE 0-4. If Ateneo beat UST, it would sweep and clinch the title; if UST won, there would be a three-way logjam, which would have to be broken by comparing the wins and points gained by each team.
At first, it seemed that UST would manage to tie Ateneo and UP, winning the first two matches of the best-of-seven rather handily. Then, Ateneo won the next two matches, tying the score. UST won the fifth match, needing only one win to make their dominance of the team competition complete; this year was the last year there would be a team competition.
Then, Raffy Garcia, a rookie and a former student of mine, though he was not a club member in high school, used his jiujitsu skills to soundly defeat his opponent. 3-3.
The seventh and deciding match I was not able to see, because I was busy refereeing the individual match on the adjoining playing area. I could only base it on the cheering results of previous matches: if the crowd started shouting, "UST! UST!" then UST won. If general screaming broke out, then Ateneo won.
I was able to glance at the scoreboard during a lull on my side, and I saw that less than a minute remained, with no score for either side. I turned back to the match I was officiating.
Then screaming broke out, and I could see through the corner of my eye that the Ateneo fans were ecstatic. I learned later that the Ateneo player managed to pin his opponent at the last second.
I'm happy for the Ateneo players, considering that this would be the last time that there would be team competition in the UAAP. After this season, the judo competition will revert to individual competition, perhaps to allow more players to participate.
But, people will probably remember the winners of the last team competition, and that it was a "Katipunan connection." Ateneo (men) and UP (women).
- During one match, a cellphone slid across the mat. It turned out that one player had apparently forgotten to take it out of the folds of her uniform, and she attempted to get rid of it, to no avail. As per the rules, which disallow any foreign hard object found on the player during competition, the hapless player was disqualified.
- During the lunch break, I was mobbed by a group of girls. It turned out that they were UP Judo Club applicants, and were looking for me to sign their applicants' sign-up sheets.