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Sunday, April 20, 2014

3-peat for Saipan Badminton Club

Saipan Badminton Club’s Oh Im Bog makes a backhand return, while teammate In Sook Heo looks on during an elimination round game against Shirley’s Badminton Club in the Traders Insurance tournament early this year at the TSL Sports Complex. (ROSELYN B. MONROYO) Saipan Badminton Club extended its reign in the Northern Marianas Badminton Association’s season-ending competition after ruling the 7th Traders Insurance Badminton Team Tournament last weekend at the TSL Sports Complex.

SBC notched a 21-9 victory over Shirley’s Badminton Club in the finals to bag its third straight championship in the annual tournament. The three-time champion won seven of the 10 matches in the title showdown to defend its title.

They zeroed in on the championship last Saturday after dropping only one game in the first five matches set for Day 1 of the finals. Dianne Francisco and Alma Ortega kicked off SBC’s campaign in Day 1 of the finals and rallied past Toshilo Obata and Windy Fernandez in the women’s B doubles. The SBC duo lost the opening game, 16-21, but stole the win after prevailing in the last two, 21-12, 22-20.

After opening the title match with a tough three-game win, SBC kept its momentum and earned victories via sweeps in the last four matches. Joel Ortega and Young Sang gave the three-time champion its first sweep after downing Chris Hilario and Tony in the men’s BC doubles, 21-18, 21-18. In the men’s A doubles, Glenn Bluutjens and Sam Jones teamed up in beating Ferdie Arago and Jerry Hibi, 21-12, 21-17.

For the third men’s doubles game (Class B), SBC leaned on Gary Bandoja and Oh Im Boh, who topped Aries Cordero and Jeff Riman, 21-12, 21-15. Then in the last match (women’s BC doubles) of the first half of the finals, Francisco and Alma Ortega partnered anew to dominate Lot Bartolome and Vilma Reyes, 21-3, 21-7.

With Day 1 of the title duel in the books, SBC went on to take a 14-1 lead, going into last Sunday’s last five tiffs and the only way Shirley’s could have spoiled the former’s three-peat celebration was to sweep the remaining matches or get 15 points. Teams are given 3 points for a win in two games and 2 for a three-game victory.

In the make-or-break Day 2 of the finals, Shirley’s got off to a promising start, as it swept the first two matches. Hilario and Fernandez recorded the first sweep after beating Bandoja and In Sook Heo (officials scores were unavailable) in the mixed B doubles, while Arago and Lanie Bartolome nailed the second one, following a two-game victory over Bluutjens and Malou Malasarte in the mixed doubles B.

Shirley’s championship bid then ended in the third game of the day, as SBC’s June and Jongmin Lee won their men’s C doubles tiff against Lance Bartolome and Jasper Van Der Maas after only two games. The eventual champion earned another two-game victory in the women’s C finals with Nicole Malasarte and Kuen Hee Han defeating Joanna Olivos and Vilma Reyes before handing the mixed BC doubles triumph to Shirley’s. Shirley’s went on to edge SBC in Day 2, 8-7, but it was not enough to overhaul the latter’s lead in the opening day of the title match.

SBC and Shirley’s arranged their title encounter after finishing in the Top 2 of the round-robin elimination. SBC wrapped up the preliminary round with an 86-34 record, while Shirley’s notched a 73-47 slate, just three wins ahead of eventual third place finisher Community Badminton Club (70-50). CBC routed last year’s finalist Golden Racquets in the consolation match, 28-2.

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