De La Salle University goalkeeper Enrico Mangaoang had one of the longest days of his life last weekend.
Straight from international duty with the Philippine Under 22 Men’s National Team, the De La Salle Zobel alumnus did everything possible to reunite with his team during its Final Four clash against Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Football Tournament.
“I barely got any sleep last night,” he said. “Our game against Myanmar was at 7:00 PM. We got back to the hotel around 11:00 PM. Athen obviously I had to pack, fix everything, and make sure all of my gear was ready for the game because I assumed I would go straight here from the airport.
“I think I got to sleep around 2:00 AM. I was awake by 5:00 AM. I had to be at the airport by 6:00 AM., and then my flight was at 8:00 AM,” he continued.
“We had a layover in Bangkok for like an hour and a half, and then our next flight straight here was at 11:30 AM. From there, we arrived at 4:00 PM, and then we just went straight here.”
Mangaoang credited his parents as well as Azkals U22 team manager Maj Año for organizing the logistics needed for him to arrive for the Green Booters’ match. The Interdisciplinary Business Studies student arrived just when the first half ended.
He was then cheered on by the La Salle crowd as he warmed up and got ready to replace starter Mig Brosoto just before the second half kicked off.
“Coach Hans Smit and Coach Alvin Ocampo were messaging me last night, asking me about my flights and what time I would get here and everything. I think throughout the entire day, we were just communicating and updating each other,” said the 6-foot-2 stopper. “I also took the risk of coming here because I wasn’t sure if I would be considered for the ID inspection, as it usually takes place an hour before the game.
“If you don’t make that, you’re not allowed to play. But luckily, Sir Nong Calanog was really nice enough to talk to the UAAP Board, and they made a consideration for me to come late. I was able to come in the second half.”
With La Salle down one-nil, Mangaoang did everything he could to keep his team in the match. He made a good save against FEU substitute Sherwin Basindanan, but the latter eventually scored against him late in the match.
He did not feel intimidated by the circumstances he came under amidst the high-pressure situation of trying to live to fight another day.
“I was really excited because I felt like me coming in would have made a difference. I’m saying this because I knew I was going to do my best as much as I could in the next 45 minutes,” said the Azkals Development Team stopper.
“I told my teammates to just make sure you could score a goal. I promise if it comes to a penalty shootout, I’ll do my best, whatever happens.”
Ultimately, the Tamaraws enjoyed a 2-0 win and are now preparing for a finals clash against the Ateneo Blue Eagles. For the Green Booters, a third-placed finish will do for now after an anticlimactic end to their campaign.
The Parañaque native, though, was one of the standout performers for the Green and White throughout their campaign. He looks set to be the program’s latest goalkeeping star following in the footsteps of Patrick Deyto and Inna Palacios.
“I think this rookie year was amazing. I didn’t expect to get man of the matches also. I was really happy that I got awarded with that,” he said.
“I was happy that the team also helped me and I was also happy to be there to help the team so I’m really excited and looking forward to the next year.”
While Mangaoang’s long day did not reach the ending he dreamed of, the setback just made him more determined to make the most out of his remaining years with La Salle.
He has two more years in his current degree program as he enrolled in La Salle during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously it’s a given that the goal is to get the championship but for me in the next two years, what I want to do is to help the team as much as possible and from there, hawa-hawaan na yan eh,” he said.
“When we’re all putting our best effort, everyone else is gonna put their best effort. We’re all gonna be helping each other so if we have that energy around the team, surely it will bring us somewhere good and hopefully that somewhere good is the championship.”