There was a curious subplot when the Far Eastern University Tamaraws squared off against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons last Sunday.
Ray Joseph Joyel, the Tamaraws’ highly rated goalkeeper, started not as the man between the sticks, but as a center-back for the four-time UAAP champion school against joint league-leaders State U.
By all accounts, Joyel held himself well against the Fighting Maroons attack that consisted of JB Borlongan and Kintaro Miyagi. Not even Borlongan’s early goal took the Pampanga-native out of his stride as he and the rest of the Tamaraws drew 1-1 that day for their second draw this Season 80.
“Sobrang nanibago ako kasi siyempre galling ako (sa pagiging) goalkeeper. Nag-isip ako na akala ko hindi ako makaka-survive. Yung mga kasama ko tinulungan din ako,” commented Joyel.
“Na-survive ko yung 90 minutes.”
The game was sort of a homecoming for Joyel as he played as a defender for the Baby Tamaraws back at the Juniors level. The 2017 South East Asian Games goalkeeper was forced to return to his old position since the Tamaraws only have 16 players in their lineup.
Joyel only knew a week before the game that he was set to return to his original position. Those who watched, though, can say that he was able shake the rust off.
“RJ is a national team player. He has confidence and pride of himself. He played very well,” opined FEU coach Park Bo Bae who added that it still remains to be seen if Joyel will be deployed as a center-back in the Tamaraws’ next games.
To return as a center-back against Anto Gonzales’ UP is a tough task for any student-athlete. State U attacks in droves as the Fighting Maroons are in constant movement throughout the contest. The fact that Joyel managed to hold his own for 90 minutes was an achievement in itself.
“Adjustment lang tapos siyempre nag-guide din sa akin yung teammates ko na magawa ko yung dapat kong gawin kasi siyempre pag galing ka as a goalkeeper yung hangin mo hindi gaano (katibay) parehas sa kanila.
“Ginawa nila parang sila rin nag-adjust for me. Kunwari pagod ako, sila papalit sa puwesto ko para maka-recover ako,” explained the Sports Management student.
Dave Parac stood in for Joyel at goal and the latter was full of praise for the former’s performance.
“Nag-step up naman po (si Parac). Napatunayan naman niya na kaya na niya (mag-start) kasi before medyo may daga pa pero pinatuyan na niya na kayang-kaya niya.”
FEU’s draw with UP is seen as a positive result after the Tamaraws’ poor start this year. After two losses and a lackluster draw, the latest result could prove to be the light in the tunnel for this undermanned FEU squad.
“Kahit 16 players lang kami tapos yung iba injured, gusto ko lang na papatunayan na kumbaga isang tao ay dalawa na yung katumbas. Parang hindi kami manghina ng loob na ganun kami ka-kaunti. Gagawin pa namin best namin,” promised the 21-year old.
There are still three more games for FEU in the first round. Now in his final playing year, Joyel is now tasked to be one of the Tamaraws’ leaders as they look to turn their season around after a dismal start. Nevertheless, the Kaya FC goalie was ready to lead the charge for his less-experienced brothers-in-arms.
“Just do their best. Kami naman rin gagawin namin ang best namin. Pero siyempre alam naman rin naming na kulang kami so kami-kami lang rin ang mag tutulungan,” he expressed.
“Kailangan lang mag step up ng bawat isa.”
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