Battle of the blues, battle of the birds, battle of top and bottom—just choose which name fits—as eight-time UAAP champion Ateneo de Manila and perennial league doormat Adamson University vanquished the green opposition and forged an unlikely final date at the conclusion of the Ang Liga Season 19 Division 1 semifinals Saturday at UP Diliman.
The Blue Eagles, finalist in UAAP Season 85, have returned to the final of the country’s premier national collegiate pre-seasoner for the first time in 2014, beating archrival De La Salle University, 2-0, in the semis derby match.
Veteran striker Leo Maquiling showed his pitch wizardry with a goal and an assist to newcomer Diego Aspiras.
Maquiling caught goalkeeper Enrico Mangaoang napping at the Ateneo goal, intercepting the La Sallian’s serve and striking the first goal in the 37th minute.
Maquiling helped the Blue Eagles add another goal in the first half stoppage time, getting himself open in the left flank and issuing a cross to a streaking Aspiras.
La Salle had two chances on goal midway in the second half but were stymied as Franck Anoh’s strike past goalkeeper Artuz Cezar got blocked by defender Jethro Flores while Rafael Gonzaga’s follow up hit the right goal post.
“His movement is very dangerous, he was lucky on the first but after that it was a great game by Leo Maquiling today,” said Ateneo head coach JP Merida, who will enter his first Ang Liga final.
In the first semis game, the Soaring Falcons, dead last in UAAP Season 85, are on the cusp of their most successful tournament in team history, draining the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in similar fashion, 2-0.
Lorent Jayaon led the team with a first half brace, scoring two goals by being on side on the leakout.
Jayaon did his first trick in the 38th minute, catching a volley from midfield by Demnes Arañas, followed by a similar breakaway in the 45th minute off a long ball by Devon Coquilla.
Adamson rookie head coach Darlton Digha, the Falcons’ skipper in their winless UAAP Season 85 campaign said that the team’s “potential has been tapped as this is basically the same team from our winless campaign.”
“It’s not me, it’s the boys who won it,” said Digha after the game.
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