When it Mattered Most
Santino Honasan on Mar 09, 2015 11:55 AM
Four minutes into added extra time last Sunday, after firing off two shots that missed the mark, Season 76 MVP and Far Eastern University football standout Paolo Bugas cut through from the left side of the field and blasted the ball towards the goal.
Third time’s the charm. Paolo’s goal broke a 2-2 deadlock with De La Salle to give his Tams the late advantage and ultimately a second straight UAAP Men’s Football championship.
Go back about a couple of months ago, Paolo wasn’t even sure to be around for the rest of the season after injuring his left knee during their first round matchup against University of the Philippines.
No wonder the third year Tamaraw was nothing short of emotional after netting the would-be game winner against DLSU.
The initial thought was that the injury Paolo sustained, damage to his ACL and MCL, was enough to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. According to the Compostela Valley native however, his first therapy session already yielded hopes of a late season return.
“Actually nung first therapy session ko, medyo okay naman, na-lelessen na yung pain. The following sessions, naging better siya, kaya nakiusap ako sa therapist ko na kung pwede ma-clear ako soon. Paolo told ABS-CBN Sports.
In the days that Paolo was recovering, he was on the bench, cheering on his teammates as the Tamaraws dominated the second half of the eliminations. Finally, in the final game of the elimination round, the former MVP made his return to the pitch late the second half of a 5-0 win against UE. In their semis match against UP, Paolo was back in the starting eleven and played all the way up to extra time.
“Si Paolo, nagpapasalamat kami na bumalik na, alam namin na kaya na niyang maglaro ng 100 percent.” Teammate Arnel Amita told the media following their semis win over UP.
With already a second straight title to boast, the FEU Tamaraws could possibly be looking at a dynasty, much like their female counterparts who have already claimed a three-peat. And with gunners like Eric Giganto and Arnel Amita possibly suiting up again next season, a third title won’t be far-off.
“Itong mga teammates ko, kasama ko na sila since high school eh. Naka back-to-back champions kami nung high school, so pagpasok namin dito sa college, inisip namin na kung pwede, dalhin namin yung glory sa school since high school kami hanggang ngayon sa college.”
Season 77, a year that Paolo described as “challenging”, proved that there are new contenders to look out for in UAAP football. When asked about gunning for a three-peat, Paolo simply answered “We’ll try our best.”
As for his knee, Paolo said that it was better and that it was back to normal.
Four minutes into extra time last Sunday, Paolo Bugas proved it, just when it mattered the most.