THE title defense of the National University Bulldogs Pep Squad in the Season 77 of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition was dealt a major blow by injuries and an eligibility issue just days into the competition.
Three new members had to be incorporated into the lineup in the days leading up to the Sunday showpiece as mainstays John Cleon Cepillo, Justice Gimeno, and Marnelli Calleja suffered injuries one after the other.
“Right now, we are really adjusting hard. Si John kasi suffered a bad sprain last Monday, days before the competition. Kaya nagbalasa kami ng tao sa mga stunts,” said NU Pep Squad team manager Patricia Chunsim.
“Sina Justice at Marnelli, nagbanggaan sa ere while doing a routine. We had to rush them to the hospital. Good thing walang serious injuries. But hopefully they can still compete on Sunday,” added Chunsim.
As if that’s not enough, Rev Lictana was deemed ineligible to compete in the group of five stunts, where the Bulldogs are also the defending champion after winning last year behind the ‘exorcism stunt’ of star flyer Claire Cristobal.
“Hindi nga daw po pwedeng sumali si Kuya Rev. Siya pa naman po ang powerlifter ko,” said Cristobal of Lictana, who the UAAP board claimed has already exceed his eligibility years.
“Siya po kasi pinaka beterano sa team namin, kaya nga po medyo nag-aadjust na rin ako sa routine, kasi nawala si Kuya Rev. Malaking bagay po siya,” added the 18-year-old pride of Atlag, Malolos Bulacan.
Following the last-minute development, the SM Group of Companies-backed NU Pep Squad is now re-aligning its performance routine.
“Wala eh. Kailangan kaming mag-adjust. Siyempre, kahit sabihin natin na matagal na sa Pool B namin `yung mga pumalit… hindi pa rin maipapalit 'yung months na na-ensayo sa team nung mga nawala,” said NU head coach Ghicka Bernabe.
“Kaya ngayon may ibang dating lifter, nilipat namin sa stunts. Yung mga bago, sa lift muna namin nilagay,” added the stunning mentor.
The Bulldogs will be hardpressed to match - if not surpass - their impressive Arabian-themed routine last year that allowed them to post impressive 696.5 points and topple longtime champion University of the Philippines.
“May pressure naman talaga kami every year, may ganitong situation o wala. Siguro china-channel na lang namin sa positivity `yung challenge,” said NU Pep Squad’s Precious Lorraine Chavez.
“Nakakalungkot nga po kasi four days before the competition, sunod-sunod injury namin. Kaya adjust na lang kami lagi,” she added.
“Risky naman po kasi talaga ang event namin. Sa US nga po sinasabi nila na cheerdancing is the most dangerous sport. Kasi pag-ibinato ka, tapos hindi ka nasalo, injured ka! Pero love na namin ang sport eh,” added the outspoken Chavez.