Menís Football Final Four: New kings will be crowned
Santino Honasan on Apr 28, 2016 09:33 AM
Who makes it to the finals?
It was indeed one of the tighter races to the postseason, but in the end, only four teams were able to make it into the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Final Four, and this year, a new champion is set to be crowned.
After two straight years of lording over the UAAP Men’s Football ranks, back-to-back defending champions Far Eastern University saw their Season 78 dramatically come to an end during the last match day of the eliminations.
With all the possible scenarios, all FEU had to do was avoid a loss. Unfortunately for the Tamaraws, they were at the tail end of a slump, and they faced off against arguably the best team during the eliminations in University of the Philippines.
A single goal was all it took. It was all over for FEU.
Now, the Final Four has cast has been set, and in a week’s time, new kings will be crowned.
UP vs. UST
In what they call the rivalry between church and state, top-seeded University of the Philippines meets fourth seed and post-season returnees University of Santo Tomas.
Showing why they’re considered as powerhouses in collegiate football, UP fought off a pretty slow start to eventually finish the eliminations at the top of the standings, and it looks like life after superstar striker Jinggoy Valmayor won’t be as tough as others expected.
With vets such as Daniel Gadia, Ian Clarino, Patxi Santos and Vince Aguilar leading the way, and a handful of rookies stepping up, the Maroons showed nothing but steady improvement this season, and they capped that off with a dominant showing in the second round, going unbeaten in all seven matches.
After missing out on the Finals for the first time in five years last season, are the Maroons headed back to compete for the tournament’s top prize?
Not of UST has something to say about that.
Definitely one of the most surprising teams this season, the Growling Tigers were the last team to stay unbeaten in Season 78, going eight matches before suffering their first loss of the season.
After finishing at sixth in Season 77, the Tigers headed into Season 77 without star striker Steven Anotado and key veteran Gino Clarino, but were reacquiring the services of returning veterans such as team captain Ronald Batisla-ong and Fidel Kue.
During the season, Batisla-ong , along with a talented mix of rookies and veterans anchored the Espanya-based squad to the top of the standings. Unfortunately for UST though, a couple of bad outings almost cost them their playoff lives.
Finally back in the postseason, the Season 69 champions a looking to compete for the top prize once again.
UST took their first round matchup, 1-0 and then went to an exciting 3-3 draw in the second round.
DLSU vs. Ateneo
A rivalry seemingly as old as Pinoy collegiate sports itself, second-seeded De La Salle and third-seeded Ateneo battle in the semifinals.
After making the finals for the first time since Season 68, the Green Archers ultimately fell at the hands of FEU in the Season 77 finals, which sparked an emotional parting message from graduating captain Matthew Nierras.
A season later, the Green Archers are again one of the most dominant teams in the league, and are eying another return to the Finals.
Gelo Diamante and Greggy Yang have led the way for the Taft booters this season, and are hoping to be able to do so for two matches more.
After the last game of the eliminations, Ateneo star rookie Jarvey Gayoso said that they pretty much needed a miracle to get into the top four. Ateneo wound up in third place after getting the most favorable of scenarios in the pivotal final match day of eliminations, with both FEU and UST getting losses.
Now, back in the Final Four, the Blue Eagle booters get another shot at reaching the pinnacle, much like what they did back in Season 75.
Skipper Mikko Mabanag remains as the team’s heart, while rookies Gayoso and Mashu Yoshioka have provided fans a glimpse into the future of the Ateneo Men’s Football team.
But before talking about the future, we must focus on the present, and at present, the Blue Eagles have another shot at making the Finals.
The two teams split their first two meetings, with DLSU taking round one, while Ateneo took round two.
Catch exciting UAAP Football action! The men’s semifinals are live on Thursday, starting at 3:00 PM on ABS-CBN Sports+Action 23, ABS-CBN Sports+Action HD 166, and livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/uaap