Jose Montelibano was down on his back, being taken care of by one of La Salle’s physiotherapist. Frustration and weariness were evident on his face while he was being stretched on the Moro Lorenzo Track Oval. The Green Archers had just been held to a 1-1 draw by their counterparts from the University of Santo Tomas, and the result ended their winning start to the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Tournament.
“We gotta win but it was not as convincing as we expected it to be. We should have capitalized more in our opportunities and we still need to improve a lot more”, rued Montelibano.
The game was the first time La Salle had played in the Moro Lorenzo Field at Ateneo de Manila University this season. However, Montelibano downplayed the effects it had on the Green Archers’ performance. “No, not really since we’re able to train in a big field and a small field, Rizal Memorial and De La Salle Zobel, this is normal for us.”
Rather, it was something more innate that Montelibano felt the Green Archers lacked. “I guess more bite, more desire to want to win.” Nevertheless, a draw is better than a loss and that was one positive Montelibano got from the result. “Of course we didn’t lose and we didn’t drop all three points,” he added. It could also be a watershed moment for the Green Archers, as they came from a goal behind to maintain their unbeaten run.
At the end of the match, the Green Archers stayed longer than usual to watch how the Far Eastern University Tamaraws took on the National University Bulldogs. FEU will be the Green Archers’ next opponents on Sunday (February 21, 2016) at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig. It will be the first encounter between the two schools since last season’s finals.
No doubt the Green Archers have an axe to grind against the Tamaraws. Montelibano said, “FEU I guess is the team to beat this season because they’re the defending champions and based on our last game, we have to step up our game. Play a lot better and show them we can keep up.”
Aside from La Salle, there are five more teams who can realistically win the championship this Season 78. FEU, NU, Ateneo, UP, and UST will all want to have a crack to the title. While Season 78 has had a few dramatic games already, the business end of the tournament has yet to arrive. “Still a long way to go since the season is a lot better now. More teams want it more. It’s everyone’s game,” concluded Montelibano.