AFTER a two-year absence in the UAAP, new Male Judokas team captain Sherwin de Rosa will be competing in his first UAAP tournament since 2014.
De Rosa missed the last two seasons due to “technical matters” he refused to disclose. He reaped bronze in the extra-lightweight division in Season 77.
The 20-year-old de Rosa will take over the captaincy from two-time Most Valuable Player Al Llamas, who has exhausted his playing years.
With the departure of Llamas and a UAAP crown to defend, de Rosa has a big role to fill in the team’s bid for back-to-back titles.
“Malaki `yung pressure. Galing sa captain na two-time Most Valuable Player tapos four times nakakuha ng gold. Ako nakapag-bronze pa lang [sa UAAP] pero ginagawa ko ang lahat para [mapunan] `yung iniwan niya,” de Rosa, a the fifth-year sports and wellness management student, told the Varsitarian.
Despite his absence in last year’s UAAP training pool, de Rosa shined for the Male Judokas in pre-season tournaments, winning gold in the Sambo category of the Pre-Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games last May, and silver in the 2017 Diliman Slam championship last June.
“Ginagawa ko ang lahat, mino-motivate ko `yung mga teammates ko na doblehin nila `yung effort nila at kapag training, sinasabi ko na ‘wag silang sumuko,” de Rosa said.
Born in Muntinlupa, de Rosa was introduced to the sport by his father, to keep him away from vices. He started playing in second grade and bore the name of his hometown in invitational tournaments and national competitions in high school.
For head coach Kidao Esteban, de Rosa has earned the trust and respect of the team, making him the rightful leader.
Esteban said the captain’s speed and strength on the mat helped develop the team’s defensive tactics.
With the UAAP tournament set next month, the Male Judokas have intensified their training regimen. Rivals Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines (UP) remain the biggest threats to the crown.
“Just like any defending champion, of course we want to maintain the crown. And I think we can handle it this time. The competition is tough and you can’t really say who is going to be the best among them,” Esteban said.
UP, Ateneo and UST are the only teams that have won the men’s judo title since the event’s inclusion in the UAAP in 1995. The Male Judokas are the winningest team with 11 championships, including six straight championships from 1998 to 2003.
Despite the competition, de Rosa is confident of the team’s chances of a back-to-back.
“Siguro masasabi ko na [90 percent ready ang team], kasi this season kumpleto kami. Last season kulang kami ng isang player, ngayon kumpleto na kami kaya feeling ko mas malaki `yung chances namin na mag-champion,” De Rosa said.
This year’s UAAP judo tournament will be at De La Salle-Zobel in Alabang on Nov. 11 to 12.