NOTWITHSTANDING a toned down UAAP cheerdance competition, National University Pep Squad remains as a hot favorite to win it all today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Strictly limited to only 15 performers in the competition area and had to do with a compressed three-minute run due to pandemic restrictions, the drummers which usually add spice to the event will sorely be missed.
“Nakaka-boost ng confidence since sila (drummers) nagdadala ng crowd,” said NU Pep Squad captain Lesther Madelo.
Still, the decorated NU cheerdancers are expected to perform their hearts out in their 90’s theme as they aim for a third straight crown – and seventh overall in the 4 p.m. event to be aired live on TV5.
Coach Ghicka Bernabe said that the adjustment was challenging since the NU Pep Squad is used to the traditional six-minute routine.
In its winning Balikbayan-inspired performance in 2019, the NU Pep Squad had three costume changes during its run, which is very impossible to do in this current set-up.
“Kami yung NU Pep Squad, aminado kami na in three minutes, dahil gusto naming mag-accumulate ng points, talagang siniksik namin yung performance po namin,” said Bernabe.
“We focused din po sa dance dahil sa marami pong percentage yung dance sa scoring. Somehow I guess, yung team ay nakapag-adjust na po sa training ng elements,” she added.
Since it has been more than two since their last face-to-face training, the NU cheerdancers had to bring back their stamina, and prepare themselves physically and mentally for the competition.
NU Pep Squad will be the second performer after the rebranded Ateneo Blue Eagles, who before this year are popularly known as the Blue Babble Battallion.
Completing the order of performance are University of the Philippines Pep Squad, Far Eastern University Cheering Squad, La Salle Animo Squad, Adamson Pep Squad, University of the East Pep Squad and University of Santo Tomas Salinggawi Dance Troupe.
UST and UP are the most winningest squads with eight titles apiece, while NU has six.
The cheerdancers had their technical rehearsals yesterday at the Pasay venue as they prepare for their first performance since 2019. By Theodore Jurado