Former UAAP MVP Paolo Bugas looking to leave a mark with the Philippine Azkals

Santino Honasan on Sep 08, 2015 03:55 PM
Paolo Bugas looking to leave a mark with the Azkals
With international stints during the offseason, Paolo Bugas will be coming back to the FEU Tamaraws a more experienced player

The last time we caught up with Paolo Bugas, the former UAAP MVP just finished leading his FEU Tamaraws to second UAAP Football title. This was after he sat out almost all of the second round of eliminations due to a knee injury.

And while the UAAP Football season won’t be starting until next year, the 20-year-old Bugas hasn’t lost time on the pitch.

Whether it be in smaller, friendly leagues, or with Global FC in the United Football League, Bugas is making sure that he’s busy, even during the offseason.

Now, the Compostela Valley-native will be taking his youth and talent to the world stage as part of the Philippine Azkals, his second tour of duty for the senior national team. Bugas, along with fellow young-gun OJ Porteria were the most recent Azkals call-ups for the World Cup Qualifiers match against Uzbekistan.

“Hindi ko talaga inexpect eh, I was in school, tapos nagulat ako kasi tinawagan ako ni Sir Ace [Bright], one of the coordinators sa team, and ayun, sobrang saya ko and hindi ko sasayangin yung opportunity.” Bugas told ABS-CBN Sports.

Before heading into the World Cup Qualifiers however, Bugas got a feel of playing with this current roster of the Azkals when he subbed in for Jerry Lucena in the 66th minute of the International Friendly match against Maldives last Thursday.

And while he didn't get to play much or score any goals, or a young player like Bugas, who could very well be one of the future faces of the senior national team, experiences like this are indeed priceless.Just being out there with the team is definitely a confidence booster.

“It was a great opportunity, it was a great chance to be with the most experienced players in the Philippines, especially the foreign-based players. Sobrang saya ko dahil binigyan ako ni Coach Dooley ng chance for my second cap with the national team.” Bugas said right after the Maldives friendly.

And while Bugas isn’t a stranger to international competition, having played in the AFC Cup and the Singapore Cup with Global and stints with the U23 Azkals.

Still, being part of the senior national team during one of the most important stretches of the World Cup Qualifiers is a huge honor in itself, and when Coach Thomas Dooley calls on Bugas’ number, the FEU standout says he’ll be ready.

“Every training, nag-oobserve ako sa mga may experience na player, ina-apply ko siya sa training, and sinusunod ko kung ano yung gusto ni Coach Dooley, kung ano yung nakakabuti sa akin. Gagawin ko talaga yung best ko kapag binigyan nila ako ng chance maglaro.”

For Bugas the pressure is the main difference between college play and international play, and with two years left in his UAAP career with the Tamaraws, he’ll surely be coming back to the FEU-Fern pitch with a whole new wealth of experience from his international stints.

“Ang target ko ay ma-angat yung laro ko hanggang sa mag-start yung UAAP, so step-by-step lang muna, one day at a time.”

Bugas and the Tamaraws will be starting their three-peat bid when the UAAP Season 78 Football Tournament kicks off in February of 2016.

Paolo Bugas and the Philippine Azkals look for another World Cup Qualifier win, this time against Uzbekistan! Catch it live on Tuesday, September 8, 7:45 pm on ABS-CBN Sports+Action 23 and BALLS HD 167!

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