Known for their heart-pumping and jaw-dropping routines, the National University (NU) Pep Squad is set to perform on the opening ceremony of the country’s premier collegiate league’s 81st season, to be held on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
NU is hosting UAAP Season 81, whose theme is “It All Begins Here”, that traditionally starts with the basketball competitions leading the way.
Head Coach Ghicka Bernabe confirmed to The Manila Times that the Bulldogs squad will highlight the much-awaited event. She said that National-U will be presenting a joint-performance of the school’s cheerdancers, dance group Underdawgz, Cheersquadron, and a guest performing group Buganda.
Manning the cheerdance routine are the squad members from Team Blue (Team B), composing of student-athletes from the senior high level.
Bernabe said the management decided to give the performance to the Team B as it wanted their “squad babies” to be exposed as early as the opening of the season.
She added the Sampaloc-based squad wants to prevent injuries it may incur in a performance so they are keeping its Team Gold (Team A), the squad’s competing team in the cheerdance competition, away the opening performance.
However, Bernabe said the team will be performing during the halftime of the school’s first basketball match against the University of Santo Tomas set in the afternoon of the opening ceremony.
“We will be doing a repeat of our pep rally cheerdance routine. But we want to emphasize that it is a routine that is to be repeated but improved. We incorporated changes in music, dance as well as formation that the audience will surely love,” the coach said in an interview.
“We’re also doing this performance as a means of providing good exposure for our Team Blue. Much is needed to be improved on their skills but what they currently do is enough to amaze the supporters. So, the people should see and watch our young team own the floor in UAAP opening,” she added.
Participants of the joint-performance underwent about five session of rehearsals within two weeks, according to Bernabe.
She said that the squad is “optimistic that it can pull off a great performance given that the team is composed of great performers.” The NU Pep Squad is also hoping that its routine will help ignite the spirit of this year’s UAAP season.
Bernabe said that the Bulldogs is “hungrier than ever,” vying for the championship crown this season.
The NU Pep Squad failed to shoot for a historic five straight championship last season after losing to the Adamson University Pep Squad, which won its UAAP cheerdance title for the first time in school history in December 2017.
But this year is a “brand new” season, said Bernabe, and the cheering squad is eyeing for the return of the championship title to the Bulldogs.
“It’s really hard to defend the championship title but with perseverance and unity, reclamation on the UAAP cheerdance crown will be possible. We will go nowhere but up. We aim for number 1 spot,” said Bernabe.
“We’re not saying that we’re relaxed or not pressured. But we really just want to showcase what we practiced for how many months. To show-off to a massive crowd what we have been working for, where no one is hurt and every squad member enjoys, is one of the greatest gratification we could gain from this sport,” she pointed out.
The head coach said that the squad has exerted “more than double extra” effort, as it prepares for this year’s tighter cheerdance competition. NU’s routine is something that the UAAP crowd has “never seen before,” she noted.
“First, we focused on our weaknesses and made sure we turned them into something useful for the team. Then, we reviewed where we’re strong at and try very hard to improve them every day. We don’t want to forget the idea that other teams may, of course, catch up with us. We always make sure we advance and step up our game,” Bernabe explained.
According to NU President Dr. Renato Carlos H. Ermita, the school, as UAAP Season 81 host, will kick’off the league’s commencement with a “wow” factor that will surely engage the public and supporters.
“We want to start the season with a ‘bang’. That is why we are putting up an exciting good show for the opening ceremony,” Ermita told The Manila Times in an interview.
Among these personalities include Fil-Am James Reid, Filipino rock band Spongecola, and K-pop star and Former 2Ne1 member Minzy.
“It’s the new decade of the UAAP and we want to show everyone why UAAP is really the country’s premium league and this is because we got better competition and excellent sport,” Ermita said.
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