Gio Pabualan finally showed what he could do five games into the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Football Tournament.
The Bukidnon native scored twice to lead Far Eastern University’s 6-1 drubbing of Adamson University last Thursday at the UP Diliman Football Field.
And it was a long time coming.
“First of all, I dedicate yung goals kay Master Kim, kay Kieth (Absalon) at kay Jermi (Darapan). Unang-una, birthday ni Master Kim ngayon, and then yung kay Jermi, yung sa injury niya. And then kay Kieth na nandiyan parati sa amin gumagabay,” said the former Baby Tamaraw.
“Kailangan namin mag-points para mag-top one. Kailangan namin mag-score ng marami para mag-top one before mag-end yung first round.”
Before this match, the UAAP Season 80 Juniors Football MVP struggled to impose himself this season. His difficulties forced tamaraws coach Vince Santos to substitute him out of big games.
Against De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines, Pabualan was removed from the action in the 55th and 45+2 minutes respectively. You’d expect a player of his quality to finish the game. However, his struggles forced the coaching staff to look for other options on the bench.
Despite that, Pabualan remained positive and was confident that one of the Tamaraws’ matches would turn out great for him.
“Unang-una is yung adjustment kasi most of us are rookies so kailangan muna mag-adjust sa mga kasama and apat lang kaming seniors tapos siyempre need namin mag-adjust para sa mga fresh legs,” he said.
“Siguro ano yung game vibes lang, tapos heads up lang kasi it’s not a bad day, it’s not a bad life. Siyempre, continue lang, move forward lang na every game may purpose.”
Amidst Pabualan’s struggles, other players from FEU have stepped up to bang on the goals. Geri Martini Rey and Khent Brian Valenzuela have scored four and three goals respectively while midfielder Karl Absalon has two already.
Indeed, football is a team game and he credits their help in not just covering up for him but helping him break out of his shell.
“Nung first game hanggang fourth game, ayun nga sinasabi ko adjustment at siyempre gusto ko rin i-add sa list ng goalscorers so siyempre I took it as motivation.
“Siyempre hindi ko din magagawa kung hindi dahil sa team ko. Without them, I couldn’t be myself in this game,” said the Azkals Development Team standout.
Up next for Pabualan and the rest of the Tamaraws is a date against Ateneo de Manila University this Thursday. It is going to be a tough game for both teams without a doubt.
For FEU, though, it has the luxury of having a one-week break before returning to action. Now that UAAP juniors champion enjoyed his breakout game this season, he will look to build on it by helping his team get another win.
“Day-by-day train tapos yung mentally dapat still focused, yung physically dapat alagaan yung sarili. We have one week to prepare against Ateneo. Next Thursday pa yung game namin,” he said.
“We have to prepare mentally and physically and then sa mga ginagawa namin para hindi kami mawala sa shape namin. One week is long enough eh to prepare against Ateneo.”