By Jean Malanum

FINALS BOUND. University of the Philippines’ Jewel Angelo Albo returns a backhand against top seed Rabie Jayson Oba-ob of the Philippine Air Force in their semifinals match in the Philippine Badminton Open men’s singles at First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo City on Monday (June 10, 2024). Albo pulled off a 21-12, 21-10 upset of top seed RJ Oba-ob to reach the finals against Clarence Villaflor in men’s singles. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – National team members Jewel Angelo Albo and Mikaela Joy De Guzman reached the finals of their divisions in the 2024 Philippine Badminton Open at First Pacific Leadership Academy courts in Antipolo City on Monday night.

Albo pulled off a 21-12, 21-10 upset of top seed RJ Oba-ob of Philippine Air Force to forge a title showdown with Clarence Villaflor in men’s singles.

Villaflor, representing Cadiz-JBA/Apacs, scored a 21-13, 21-16 victory over Ateneo de Manila University’s Arthur Salvado Jr. in the other semifinal match.

“I didn’t really set a goal for myself. I just want to show my best and perform well,” Albo, the UAAP Season 85 Rookie of the Year, said. “What I focused on in the semifinal is my game play which is that I need to attack.”

The top-ranked De Guzman, on the other hand, won her semifinal match against No. 8 seed Karyll Rio of National University, 21-10, 21-13, in women’s singles.

“She did great. I know that she’s one of NU’s top players so I gave my 100 percent. I’m happy with my performance,” De Guzman, who will defend her title against No. 3 seed Ysabel Amora, said.

Amora, also from NU, beat No. 5 seed Anielka Maeve Paz, 21-15, 21-12, in the semis.

“I’m going to give it my all because this is the final game. So, whatever I have left, I’m going to give it my all,” De Guzman, the 2023 APACS Kazakhstan International Series champion, said.

Meanwhile, Smash Pilipinas standouts Julius Villabrille and Airah Mae Nicole Albo stayed on course in their title-retention bids.

Third seeds Villabrille and Solomon Padiz Jr. outplayed Lanz Ralf Zafra and Nestojan Tapales, 24-22, 21-11, to advance in the men’s doubles final against Peter Gabriel Magnaye and Christian Bernardo, who prevailed over University of the Philippines’ Kervin Llanes and Rey Angelo Pedron, 21-17, 21-15.

Top seeds Albo of De La Salle and Lea Inlayo of UP conquered University of Santo Tomas duo Patricia De Leon and Marielle Alvarez, 21-14, 21-19, to reach the women’s doubles final.

Albo and Inlayo will face UP’s Patricia de Dios and Kimberly Lao, who won over UST’s Jennifer Helyn Saladaga and Rhafi Anne Santos, 21-18, 21-13.

In the mixed doubles, top seeds Villabrille and Albo trounced John Gregg Paz and Marilou Dacillo, 21-11, 21-13, to set up a final meeting with Christian Bernardo and Alyssa Ysabel Leonardo, who eliminated second seeds Padiz and Inlayo, 21-18, 17-21, 21-18.

The final matches will be played at Gameville Ball Park in Mandaluyong City on Tuesday starting at 10 a.m.

The tournament offers a total of PHP1 million in cash prizes, with the men’s and women’s singles champions earning PHP100,000 and the runners-up getting PHP50,000.

The third and fourth placers will receive PHP15,000 each.

In the doubles category, the prizes are PHP120,000 (champion), PHP60,000 (runner-up) and PHP30,000 (3rd and 4th). (PNA)