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University of the Philippines gave the ultimate tribute to a fallen teammate by capturing the UAAP men’s football title as rookie King Miyagi netted a hat trick in a convincing 4-1 victory over Ateneo in Thursday night’s final at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Miyagi struck the opener in the 27th minute before foiling the Blue Eagles’ bid to tie the game by netting two goals in the second half, giving the Maroons their first men’s crown since 2012 while completing a rare double for the Diliman campus after their female counterparts won their first women’s diadem with a 2-1 win over La Salle.
UP players flashed a “For Rogie” banner, dedicating the school’s 17th men’s title to former player Rogie Maglinas, who earlier this year passed away due to a rare form of cancer known as rhabdomyosarcoma.
Maroons coach Anto Gonzales, who also steered the women’s team to the historic crown earlier in the day, couldn’t help but become emotional after the match.
“’Rogie, salamat sa lahat. Sana kasama ka namin ngayon at panu lumaban ’yung team’,” said Gonzales. “’Yung iniwan niya, mananatili parati sa amin, ’yung fight, ’yung sipag, ’yung conscious siya sa mga maliliit na bagay. Sana masaya siya kung saan man siya ngayon.”
The final proved to be a showcase of what’s in store for 18-year-old Miyagi, who delivered the opener with a rebound off a strike by Daniel Gadia.
Gadia, later named the league’s Most Valuable Player, doubled the lead seven minutes later when he slalomed past several defenders for a clinical finish that wowed the UP gallery.
Meantime, UP stunned highly-favored La Salle, 2-1for its first-ever UAAP women’s football crown.
Ma. Angeliza Sta. Clara delivered the winning goal in the 67th minute with a header to the bottom corner as the Lady Maroons, who three years ago failed to win a single game and lost to Far Eastern University in last year’s final, lifted the championship trophy at long last.
UP won despite entering the final as the underdogs as La Salle topped the elimination round by going unbeaten in the double-round eliminations.