One of the most heated match-ups in the UAAP Men’s Football Tournament is the clash between the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles.
When both schools played against each other for the first time in Season 81 last March 3, 2019, a pair of identical twins were divided by school colors. Arturo and Luka Alleje, two products of Holistic Education and Development Center in Antipolo City, suited up for UP and Ateneo during the game.
Arturo and Luka are the younger siblings of UP Women’s Football Team skipper Cassandra Alleje and, coincidentally, celebrated their date of birth as opponents at the Far Eastern University-Diliman turf in Quezon City.
While they are complete doppelgangers of each other, both of them had their own reasons for why they ended up in their particular university.
“For me, I was really looking at UP, not just because of the football but because of my goal, which is to become a wildlife conservationist. And if I go to UP, my career path would be better,” explained Arturo.
“It’s more directed in UP rather than going to another school like Ateneo.”
On the other hand, Luka shared, “Ever since I was young, I saw myself… Because I grew up with my dad and my older brother, they both went to Ateneo, and I was sort of exposed to that culture.
“I wanted to play for the white and blue basically.”
In a sense, one can suspect the hand of destiny in the timing. Not only did the twins’ schools play against each other on their birthday, they also both play as strikers.
“We were always the heart of the team.
“You would either find one of us at the back and another at front. We would just work together until fourth-year. We started off at the wings and then when HEDCen, because it’s a small school, we started to lack players. I went to center-back and (Luka) was at the striker position,” said Arturo.
Come kick-off, it was Luka who started for Ateneo, while Arturo was left on the bench for UP. Luka had the unenviable task of trying to outsmart the Fighting Maroons’ backline; he was eventually substituted for Rupert Bana in the 63rd minute with the Blue Eagles losing by two goals.
“I knew they have a strategy against us.
“I knew they’d use (Luka) because he’s tall so I knew he’d probably be at the top and because of his game of being very aggressive and very taunting,” said Arturo.
Bana then pulled one back for Ateneo. Afterwards, Arturo substituted his captain, Kintaro Miyagi, in the 87th minute to close out the game. Ultimately, UP managed to hold on to a 2-1 victory, while Ateneo suffered their second defeat this year.
“(The timing) was the funniest thing, though it’s sad because I lost in my birthday and (Arturo) won,” lamented Luka. “I wanted to be inside because I was already subbed out, but in the future, I hope we get to go head-to-head because that’s how we were ever since.
“We’re competitive against each other. We built each other. We made each other who we are now.”
After the game was done, Arturo shrugged off any suggestions that he had won bragging rights because of his limited playing time, but Luka had a different take.
“It’s still a bragging right (for Arturo) but there’s another round so I’ll get that one.
“Let’s see what happens in the next game,” said Luka.
Given that, the Battle of Katipunan has just gotten a lot richer with the Alleje brothers.
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