by David Tristan Yumol
A resilient Kintaro Miyagi led the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons on to their UAAP Season 78 title conquest after disposing Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles at nightcap, 4-1, Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
It was a double victory celebration for the Fighting Maroons after the women’s football team won their first title in the previous game.
This win against the Katipunan-based booters also ended their four-year title drought in the said tournament.
Miyagi provided the hot start for the Maroons as he scored the first goal from a miss by team captain Daniel Gadia in the 28th minute.
Gadia followed up with his own goal in the 34th minute by eluding several defenders from Ateneo to give the early lead for UP, 2-0.
The game rhythm somehow changed two minutes after Gadia’s goal as graduating Mikko Mabanag of Ateneo struck a goal from a free kick as the ball slips past UP goalkeeper Nathaniel Villanueva.
First half ended, 2-1, in favor of the Diliman-based booters.
In the second half, Miyagi added two goals from open assists in the 70th and 80th minute to cap a victorious night for the state university.
The suffocating defense of the Maroons was a main factor to deny the Blue Eagles a goal in the last 45 minutes of the game.
Miyagi confidently said that he really prepared for this game and pushed himself to play hard since it’s their last game already.
“I did all my best in training to be in top shape for this game. Good thing it paid off and the whole team played hard tonight,” he stated.
The players also dedicated their victory to their fallen teammate Rogie Maglinas, who succumbed before the season started because of a rare form of cancer.
“Until our final game and this championship, we dedicate this to our brother Rogie. I hope he’s happy up there,” says Gadia, who was crowned as this year’s Most Valuable Player.
Patxi Santos and Sebastian Patangan were also included in the Mythical Eleven of Season 78.