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Giganto scores four as FEU dominates UST 6-0 to secure final four slot

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Powered by Eric Giganto’s second four-goal performance of the season, defending champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws booked a return trip to the semi-finals with a staggering 6-0 pummeling of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.

The first half opened with a heated midfield battle between the two offensive minded squads. The typically fiery Tamaraws stayed in attacking form by crowding the perimeter of the box. The Tigers on the other hand established their presence on the wing, with Steven Anotado almost scoring on a long shot from the left side of the box at the 9th minute that sailed past the bar.

It was FEU’s leading scorer Eric Giganto who drew first blood at the 12th minute, prying open the UST defense and with enough space scoring from just inside the box. Four minutes later, Arnel Amita doubled the lead with a powerful strike from twenty yards out in the left wing that sent the ball flying into the net with UST goalie John Rey Catalino unable to dive in time to parry the shot away.

Soon enough the Tams took control of the midfield struggle, with their central defenders keeping the counterattack by reducing the Tigers’ passing routes. The Tigers were forced to continue to course their offense through the wing. At the 26th minute, Anotado came close to finally scoring for the Tigers, but was unable to connect with a cross from the right wing and eventually lost the ball to the FEU defense.

At the 35th minute, Giganto doubled his tally, once again powering his way through the UST back and launching from the middle of the box and sending a powerful shot that sent the ball into the net before the UST goalie could react. At the half, the score was 3-0 for FEU.

The second half opened with another aggressive display from the Tamaraws, and just after a minute of play, Jhan Jhan Melliza joined the list of scorers with a point-blank header that connected with a cross from the right wing, giving the Tamaraws a 4-0 lead.

Through their aggressive counter-attack, the Tamaraws had dominated the midfield, and their attackers found themselves shooting from wherever they pleased on the field. At the 58th minute, a long ball from the back was collected by Eric Giganto, who powered his way through the midfield and into the top of the pitch and sent a powerful shot that propelled the ball into the ceiling of the net. Four minutes later, the Tams’ prized striker was under the spotlight once more, netting his fourth goal of the game after maneuvering to collect a long volley from the right wing and striking from just inside the box. After 62 minutes of play, the defending champions led 6-0. Giganto was replaced by Justin Calamba on the field at the 66th minute, and afterwards received a warm welcome from FEU players and staff on the sidelines.

The remaining twenty or so minutes saw the Tamaraws defend aggressively, with their defenders preventing the UST midfield from getting the ball. Still unable to find a good look on the goal, the Tigers were forced to take shots from long range which either went wide or were easily corralled by the FEU back. At the final whistle, the score was unchanged.

“Sa ngayon hindi pa kami kumpiyansa hanggang hindi pa namin nakukuha ang championship,” said Giganto in an interview after the match. “Alam po namin na ang ibang team preparado at alam namin na ang FEU medyo angat, pero kailangan pa po namin i-push ang sarili namin para makuha ang championship. Kailangan namin mag-focus ngayon hanggang sa finals.” Giganto dedicated his stellar performance this afternoon to his coaches and teammates.

“I remember noong lagi kaming nasa championship, three to four years ago tinatambakan din namin ang FEU nang ganiyan,” said UST head coach Marjo Allado. “Siguro mas hinog lang ang players nila kesa sa amin. May farm team sila (FEU high school football program), kami walang ganoon. Asa lang kami sa scouting. Mas lamang din siguro sila sa game experience.” Coach Allado however remains optimistic about the program’s future, promising to do their best in the remaining game against Ateneo and to eventually bounce back stronger next season.

FEU is currently tied with the University of the Philippines with 27 points for first place, but hold on to a staggering +30 goal differential advantage. Meanwhile, UST will have to settle for sixth place for the season, their worst finish in the history of the program.

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