De La Salle's Risky Business
Santino Honasan on Mar 02, 2015 04:55 PM
"I dream about playing. I think about what I'm gonna do when I get back."
High risk, high reward.
Just ask DLSU Men’s Football coach Hans Smit.
Late in the second half of their semifinal matchup against rivals Ateneo last March 1, Smit pulled third-year man Gelo Diamante off the bench and got him ready to check in for his brother Gio. It was a surprising move for Smit, but it sure got the DLSU faithful in attendance at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium very excited.
This was a huge risk for Smit, Gelo, and the whole DLSU team.
Midway through the season, Gelo suffered an injured clavicle that basically kept him out of action for the whole of the second round of the eliminations. At that time, it was the Davaoeno who was anchoring the Archers’ offense, leading the team in made goals.
Gelo’s injury was a big blow to De La Salle, but the Archers remained tough and finished the eliminations unbeaten and on top of the standings.
With an ultimate chance to end a nine-year finals drought, Smit decided to dust off one of his biggest guns.
“Knowing Gelo, he’s hungry to play, and I just took a chance on him. I was just praying that no one was gonna really bang him up because he is not a hundred percent, his clavicle is still fractured. “Sorry to the parents of Gelo, but I had to take a chance.” Smit told the media.
And just like he was never gone, Gelo proved to be the difference between a finals seat and 30 more minutes of playing time, as he found an open shot and rifled the eventual game-winning goal in at the 88th minute.
“Grabe, since na-injure ako, wala akong ibang iniisip kung hindi makabalik sa game. I dream about playing, I think about what I’m gonna do when I get back.” Gelo told ABS-CBN Sports. It wouldn’t be surprising to think that scoring the game winning goal against a rival school to make it to the finals was one of the things that Gelo dreamt about doing once making it back.
Thanks to Gelo and Coach Hans’ big risk, the Green Archers are going back to the UAAP Men’s Football Finals for the first time since Season 68. For Gelo, it’s the result of sacrifice and hard work.
“I’m so happy. It’s been a long time since nakapasok kami sa Finals. We failed nung first year ako, we failed nung second year ako, pero this time we gave our everything. We sacrificed everything, and this became our number one priority, so I think tama lang na nakapasok kami.”
Probably making the victory a little sweeter for Gelo and the rest of the DLSU Men’s football team is knowing that it was the rival school that they just eliminated on their way to the finals.
The Archers will face off against defending champions and offensive juggernauts Far Eastern University. They’ve gone this far, and we will know soon enough if they can go all the way.
If they do end up hoisting the UAAP Men’s football title, they can always look back and give thanks to this “risk” they took in the semifinals.
The UAAP Season 77 Men's Football Finals between DLSU and FEU will take place this Sunday, March 8, 4pm at the Rizal Memorial Football Field. You can watch it LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports + Action 23 and BALLS HD 167