IT’S that time of the year again when basketball action briefly gives way to the highly-awaited UAAP Cheerdance Competition.
This year, National University will be going for a third straight championship while seven other teams try to play the spoilers’ role amid a festive atmosphere at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
University of Santo Tomas and University of the Philippines are the winningest teams with eight titles each in the 21-year history of the cheerdance competition, but NU has established itself as the team to beat this year.
Let's take a look at the competition in this second installment of an eight-part series:
UP Pep Squad
After a heartbreaking runner-up finish last year, the University of the Philippines Pep Squad has dedicated itself to the pursuit of perfection in a bid to reclaim lost glory.
The Diliman-based dancers fell just short of toppling National University with 658 points against the 677.5 of the back-to-back champions, but UP team captain Lara Limjap has vowed to raise the bar for the audience which will watch Saturday's final at the Mall of Asia Arena - and a lot more watching at home.
Limjap said UP will retain the style that it has long been known for, with refinements in the technical aspect.
“The UP Pep Squad will always strive for a perfect run, of course,” she said. “We also believe that we will make it to the No.1 spot if we retain our UP Pep Squad flavor.”
“But this time, with a lot more improvement in the technical aspect,” she added.
Limjap declined to give any hints on the theme of UP's performance this year, except to say that it will be some sort of tribute to the entire student-athlete community of the university.
“I think, personally, our theme is an added motivation since it's really dedicated to the student-athletes, a group of people where we, ourselves, are part of,” said the fifth-year UP Pep Squad skipper.
“We also think that being cheerleaders, we can be the voice of the university's student-athletes to show to the people that we are not just merely doing this for the love that we have toward our respective sports, but also how we value our academics along with it as well,” she added.
The 21-year old BS Family and Child Development major said work for UP started shortly after the failed title bid last year.
“We have been preparing ourselves since the end of last year's competition,” admitted, “not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. For we know that physical strength will not be the only key to succeed in everything that we do.”
Although NU and UP's fellow eight-time champion and last year’s third placer University of Santo Tomas are tagged as the crowd favorites, Limjap thinks this year's competition will be tough to call.
“With the growth of cheerleading in the Philippines, we know that all of the teams are really preparing themselves, and are continually improving. So we think that all the teams are our contenders, even our own,” she said.