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Thu 23 May 2024

FEU returns to final, outlasts Ateneo in extra time

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It took 81 minutes for defending champions Far Eastern University (FEU) to overcome fourth seed and last year’s runner-up Ateneo de Manila to re-enter the UAAP men’s football final, 2-1, in extra time Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Striker Sherwin Basindanan towed the Tamaraws to the final late in the game, issuing a right corner assist to Martini Rey, who scored the tying header in the second half injury time (90+4th minute) and sending the game to extra time.

Basindanan then struck the winning goal in the 109th minute off a nifty through pass by Jermi Darapan from the right wing.

“Nag-stick lang kami sa mga pinapagawa ng mga coaches,” Basindanan, who played the entire 120 minutes said. “Yung winning mentality ng team namin, nandun pa rin.”

“This game was not a victory of skill, technique, or tactics. It was heart. This was a game of heart,” remarked manager Alberto Besa.

Basindanan and fellow striker Selwyn Mamon had two early attacks on goal to start the game but were stymied by Ateneo’s back third partnership of goalkeeper Artuz Cesar and Christian Santelices.

The Blue Eagles then had counterattacking runs to their final third anchored on Kofi Agyei and Leo Maquiling’s attack.

The two found success in the quick running buildup in the 28th minute, with Maquiling’s left cross to Agyei, who issued a back pass to an unmarked Galen Fernandez for the opening goal.

Despite the Tamaraws holding much of the possession for the entirety of the match since, Ateneo clogged FEU’s box and had two open chances by Agyei in the running attack, but the league’s leading scorer was narrowly off target in his two open shots in the 77th and 81st minute in an attempt to pad their lead and deny FEU a title defense.

“We didn’t lose hope kasi alam namin na every second magkakaroon ng chances, magkakaroon ng breakthough. Just make a solid late pass and finish, yun lang siguro ang nangyari. So yung faith lang and yung hope namin na makaiskor yun lang,” said FEU skipper Martini Rey.

The Tamaraws are raring for a second straight treble on May 16 versus the University of the Philippines while their women’s team will defend the title versus archrival De La Salle University in tonight’s women’s football final, also at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

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