The UAAP men’s football crown is back on Diliman.
The University of the Philippines defeated University of Santo Tomas with a score of 1-0 to bag their 18th overall UAAP men’s football crown at the historic Rizal Memorial Football Stadium last May 3rd.
In the 21st minute, JB Borlongan launched a free kick that reached teammate Ian Clarino, resulting in the latter to launch a kick that gave UP a 1-0 edge against UST.
On the second half, UST failed to equalize the scoreboard after the free kicks of Onyok Dioniso was check by the defense of the Fighting Maroons in the 36th and 44th minute. UP were still aggressive to double or triple their lead with attempts coming from Kintaro Miyagi and Borlongan. It was all denied by UST goalkeeper Zaldy Abraham.
The Golden Booters again found an opportunity to tie things at 81st minute with Conrado Dimacali’s cross found Dexter Benecio for the header but the attempt was foiled after goalkeeper Anton Yared of UP intercepted the ball.
“This bunch of boys is inspirational. From the first player to the last player, yung motivation, yung drive, yung selflessness, you cannot ask for anything more if you’re the coach,” said UP head coach Anto Gonzales via Tiebreaker Times.
”I think the players are just so devoted, so passionate to play for the school. Speaking from experience, I’ve been coaching UP for nine years,” Gonzales pointed out. “Mainly, my motivation is that UP has done so much for me also. UP has helped me so much and I think these boys feel the same way and those who have come before we feel the same way. UP has done so much for us. This is our way to give back.”
Gonzales won his fifth championship as the head coach for the Fighting Maroons and second championship in three years.
Most importantly, UP went undefeated all throughout the season with 12 wins and four draws resulting being top of the standings with 32 points after the elimination round. It’s the first time since 2012 the Diliman-based squad went undefeated.
It was also a proper send-off for graduating UP players led by Clarino, Javi Bonoan, Darwin Basconcillo, Emmanuel Cordero and Micah Alampay.
“Feeling ko wala siyang difference. Ginagawa namin ito para sa lahat ng mga tumutulong sa amin, and siyempre para kay Rogie. So walang difference talaga, lalaban kami para kay Rogie and sa lahat ng mga sumusuporta sa amin” said Clarino via ABS-CBN Sports as he dedicated his second championship to his late teammate Rogie Maglinas, who passed away in 2016 due to a rare form of cancer that affected his skeletal muscle.
The finals was also a featured battle of the Clarino siblings with Ian of UP and his brother Gino, playing for UST face off in the football pitch.
“I’m just thankful because I faced him in my final season in the UAAP and it really feels good,” said Ian, the younger one told Inquirer.net.
“I tried to think like it’s just any other game. I tried to focus and not let my emotions get the better of me,” Ian said as he faces his brother, his teammate back in secondary at UST High School. “Knowing UST, they’re strong and tough, and they never quit until the final whistle. They really gave it their all.”
UST head coach Marjo Allado still congratulate his wards despite the loss.
“Noong naka-goal ang UP, hindi na kami nakasabay sa kanila sa first half. Congratulations pa rin sa mga bata kasi ginawa nila lahat,” said Allado via UST’s student publication The Varsitarian.
Allado’s team are set to lose Jopridale Molino, AJ Passion, Marvin Bricenio, Gino Clarino(Ian Clarino’s brother), Kenneth Tuzon, Efren Menaes, and Darwin and Dionisio Busmion due to maximized playing years.
The league also recognized the best players of the season with Ian Clarino leading the way with season MVP and Best Defender plum.
The Best Goalkeeper and Best Midfielder award went to Zaldy Abraham of UST and Jed Diamante of DLSU. Ateneo’s Jarvey Gayoso bagged the Best Striker award.
UP’s Fidel Tacardon bagged the Rookie of the Year citation. De La Salle University, on the other hand, took the Fair Play award.