Thu 23 May 2024

HIDDEN TIGER: Benchwarmer Roward Jintula keeps UST’s F4 hopes alive with crucial start

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A seldom-used striker infused life to the faltering University of Santo Tomas (UST) men’s football team as benchwarmer Roward Jintula was all over the place in the Growling Tigers’ tenth game of the season, scoring a goal and an assist to repulse tournament dark horse University of the East (UE), 3-1, in last Thursday’s action.

The young midfielder from Marbel, South Cotabato came out of obscurity; starting, scoring, and assisting to lead his team to an outside chance of grabbing a final four slot in just his second start of the season.

Coming in place of usual starter Stephen Marasigan and the injured Archie Belluga, Jintula showed his magic on the 25th minute to level UE’s early 1-0 lead with a goal that caromed off the right goal post toward the back of the goal line.

He iced the game for the Growling Tigers in the 89th minute, issuing a one-touch assist to an on-side Andrew Ramos to give no chance to the Red Warriors.

“Ang game na ito, ang nag-motivate sa amin ay kapag natalo kami ngayon ay di kami pasok sa final four,” Jintula told Fullcourtfresh after the game.

Coach Marjo Allado expressed his utmost gratitude to his “magic bunot,” saying that his early goal was a lifeline for UST.

“For how many games, laging sa bench si Jintula,” said Allado. “For today, honestly, may sakit na yan pero motivated siya talaga. Mabuting naka goal siya kaagad kasi kung tumagal pa yun, mahihirapan kami kay UE. UE is a strong team. For Jintula naman, a good performance tonight.”

According to Jintula, an added motivation for him was to step up for his injured teammates.

“Yung iba naming mga kasama injured, so kaming mga subs [yung] coaches talaga ang nagbigay sa amin ng opportunity, binigyan kami ng pagkakataon para makapaglaro nang maayos, ma-express ang sarili namin sa game,” Jintula explained.

Despite the upset against UE, who won their first round encounter, 1-2, the Growling Tigers (13 tournament points) remain at sixth place but are just two points behind the Far Eastern University, University of the Philippines, and the Red Warriors, who occupy the third to fifth spots, respectively.

The Growling Tigers can add a maximum of six points a potential final four spot if they win their next games against defending champions Ateneo de Manila tomorrow and FEU on April 30.

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