WATCH THE THRONE: UP Maroon booters begin UAAP Football title defense
Santino Honasan on Feb 03, 2017 01:41 PM
The University of the Philippine will be eyeing back-to-back UAAP men's football crowns in UAAP Season 79
While the University of the Philippines men’s football team could still be on a high after their emotional title run last season, it’s back to work for the champs as a new UAAP football season begins, and seven other squads are coming for their title.
DEFEND THE CROWN
University of the Philippines
The celebrations are done and the title is back in the trophy case. It’s time to hit the pitch once again, to make sure that the trophy stays in Diliman. The defending champs come back for Season 79 with an intact core including team captain and Season 78 MVP Daniel Gadia, Ian Clarino, Patxi Santos, as well as rookie sensation King Miyagi, who’ll be hoping to pick-up from where he left off after scoring a hat trick in last season’s final.
An interesting addition to the Maroons will be defender Marco Casambre, who’s seen international action even before suiting up for the Diliman side. Casambre made a name for himself during last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup, starting and playing significant minutes against Thailand.
The last time that UP won back-to-back titles in football was back in Season 73 and Season 74. They hope to repeat the feat with another title this season.
COMING FOR THAT NUMBER ONE SPOT
Ateneo de Manila University
After their rough start in Season 78, it would have been hard to imagine the Blue Eagles making the Finals. As always however, they proved everyone wrong and made a comeback in the second round of eliminations, ultimately making the semifinals, where - in the most fitting of scenarios between rival schools - they beat De La Salle on 5-4 on penalties.
Unfortunately for the Ateneo, they had no answer for their Katipunan rivals in the final.
Gone will be longtime skipper Mikko Mabanag and JP Oracion, as well as one of last season’s most promising rooks, Mashu Yoshioka.
Back in blue will be new team captain Carlo Liay, Emilio Acosta, and sophomore star Jarvey Gayoso, who was last season’s top striker.
De La Salle University
The De La Salle Green Booters have had two heartbreaking seasons in a row. Yes, they’ve excelled, and they’ve finished better than the three season before that, but if you look at how they went out in Season 77 and Season 78, you’d understand why.
Season 77 saw the Taft side finish the eliminations unbeaten, and they beat rivals Ateneo in the semifinals to book a seat against then-defending champions FEU. The only loss they took that season? Against FEU, in the Finals. By one goal.
Seemingly motivated from their Season 77 heartbreak, DLSU was dominant in Season 78, staying at the top of the standings for quite a while and eventually making a return trip to the semis…only to be ousted by rivals Ateneo. After regulation. After extra time. In the penalty shootout. By one goal.
The Green Booters will also have a fairly intact core, with guys like Gelo Diamante and S78 Rookie of the Year Jed Diamante coming back, as well as Jhoguev Ybanez, and Noel Brago. Gone for La Salle are key cogs in Greggy Yang and Gerald Layumas
Will the heartbreak finally end for the guys in green?
University of Santo Tomas
After missing out on the post-season the year before, the España-based booters found themselves in the semifinals in Season 78, thanks to the consistent play of returning skipper Ronald Batisla-ong, Darryl Regala, the Busmion brothers, and rookie AJ Pasion.
At one point, the Tigers held on to the top of the standings, but appeared to lose steam late, despite making the semis.
In the Final Four, they would lose to eventual champions UP.
With Batisla-ong completing his tour of duty, and would-have-been star striker Steven Anotado still sidelined due to injuries, the Tigers hope to once again put together on a good showing in Season 79.
IN THE MIX
Far Eastern University
After back-to-back championships, no team took a more surprising 180 than the Far Eastern University.
From perennial top-seeders, last season, the Tamaraw booters were merely fighting to keep themselves in the Final Four race. They would eventually lose that battle and finish fifth, missing out on the playoffs for the first time since Season 73.
In his last year for the green and gold, former MVP Paolo Bugas won’t be having former running-mate Eric Giganto around anymore, but he’ll be leading a talented cast of sophomores in Rico Andes, Val Jurao, and Dave Deloso.
Can Paolo Bugas bring the Tamaraws to the promised land of collegiate football one last time?
Speaking of eras coming to an end, the Paolo Salenga era in NU is over.
For the first time in three years, the Bulldogs will be without their high-scoring star striker, as well as running mate Nico Macapal, who led the blue-and-gold’s offensive attack last season.
Since joining the UAAP football tournament in Season 75, the NU Bulldogs have always been in the bottom half of the rankings. Their best season to date was back in Season 77, when they were just inches away from cracking the final four for the first time in team history.
A new chapter in Bulldogs football begins in Season 79, and returning players like Lawrence Colina, Jericho Dagsa, and Eddie Alivio look to lead the charge.
PUTTING IN THE WORK
After finishing in last place in their first year back in the UAAP football tournament in Season 77, the Adamson Falcons improved in Season 78, earning their first win and finishing a notch higher. While that’s all that can be said about the young Falcons for now, look for them to keep fighting and keep improving as they compete in Season 79.
The Jumo twins, as well as skipper Jackson Ramos are all back and ready to go, looking to get the Falcon booters soaring.
University of the East
A lot has changed since Season 65, when the UE Red Warriors reigned supreme in the UAAP football scene.
In the 12 seasons following their title run, the Sampaloc squad only saw post-season action twice, and last season finished winless and in last place, one of their worst outings in over a decade.
Still, there was a lot of potential within the Red Warriors, with incoming sophomores Mar Diano, Krysler Opena and junior Stephane Dagaraga becoming key pieces for UE.
A lot work is left to be done, and UE hopes to get started in Season 79.
The UAAP Season 79 football tournament kicks of on Saturday, February 4 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. All weekend games will be played at the RMS, while Thursday TV games are slated for the Moro Lorenzo football field in Ateneo.
You can catch the exciting UAAP men’s football action on Thursdays starting at 2:00 PM LIVE on S+A Channel 23, S+A HD channel 166, and livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/uaap