When the Far Eastern University Tamaraws and the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles squared off in the former’s Diliman campus, observers could be forgiven if they had an eye for two particular players on that day, Gio Pabualan and Jarvey Gayoso.
One is a rookie who plays with fearlessness and exuberance of youth. The other is a veteran who calculates when to strike the killer blow.
The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Meanwhile, Pabualan came out on top of their personal duel courtesy of his assist for Poi Saldivar’s first-half goal. Still, the Bukidnon native’s contribution to the contest was not a surprise for the UAAP Season 79 Men’s Football Most Valuable Player.
“Ever since he was in high school, I’ve always been a big fan of Pabualan. He was actually my teammate in the Palarong Pambansa before when I joined FEU. He was really outstanding – he was a really good leftie, he’s a good player,” said Gayoso.
“I think he’s one of the most promising rookies now for the UAAP. And I’m excited because I know he could be part of the SEA Games and the national team, the under-22 team.”
For his part, Pabualan admired the fighting spirit that Gayoso and his comrades displayed during the game. The Blue Eagles pushed on after Saldivar’s goal and eventually found a late equalizer thanks to skipper Julian Roxas.
“Yung mentality nila and yung mentality nila (na) hindi susuko eh. They really have to strive until the last minute kahit lamang kami 1-0,” noted the 19-year-old Tamaraw.
Come the end of the game, both sides exchanged the routine pleasantries after a hard-fought 90 minutes. Pabualan and Gayoso approached each other to shake hands and walked off with their respective teammates for the post-game huddles.
“We’re still friends kahit sa labas.
“He’s still doing his best naman (for Ateneo) and I’m doing what I can do for the team,” shared Pabualan.
Gayoso is on his fourth-playing year for the Blue Eagles. In his stint so far with the Blue & White, the grandson of the legendary Ed Ocampo has earned a championship and an individual merit for all his exploits. With all those honors under his belt, he had a piece of advice for Pabualan.
“Keep that fire, stay hungry and to have that desire in you,” said Team Pilipinas booter in the 2017 SEA Games.
“Bata ka pa and madami ka pang matututunan at ma-experience. Kaya tuloy lang sa pag-ensayo at paglaro.”
With a goal and an assist in his first two outings in the UAAP, Pabualan has shown that he can play with the big boys. And like Gayoso – who had big dreams in his neophyte days in the seniors level – Pabualan also hopes to achieve big things for FEU.
“Sobrang nakaka-pressure. Pero yung pressure ko yung na-eexcite ako kasi gusto kong mag-contribute sa team,” said the Season 80 Juniors Football MVP.
“Gusto ko mabalik yung FEU sa top four and then sa Finals.”
Gayoso evidently knows how to distinguish the paupers from the royals. Now, it is on Pabualan to live up to the hype.
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