MANILA, Philippines - Reigning UAAP football champion University of the Philippines and NCAA titlist San Beda College get to test their mettle against the top collegiate football squads as they banner the first-ever 2012 IPPCA Football Pre-Season Cup which kicks off on Oct. 14, at the Nuvali Football field in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
The State University-Eastern Petroleum booters, who won back-to-back crowns in the UAAP, remain as one of the favorites in the event organized by Filoil Flying V Sports and sponsored by Nuvali , Molten, N20 Gastropub, Boysen and Bacchus Energy Drink.
Coach Andres Gonzales, the architect behind UP’s back-to-back feat in the UAAP, admitted that his team had been considerably weakened with the graduation of some key players, including last year’s MVP Nathan Octavio, but said that he expects holdovers Raymark Fernandez, a SEA Games veteran, Deo Segunial, a former best defender, Jinggoy Valmayor, the best rookie and striker two years ago, and Michael Simms, last year’s top rookie awardee to deliver.
The Maroons will also rely on rookies Carlos Monfort from Ateneo, Feb Baya from San Carlos, Lou Rafanan from UST and Ryan Fermin from Southridge.
Gonzales said the new football league will help the team stay sharp for the upcoming season.
“Our team gets to play less than 25 official matches per year. That’s very few if you want boys aged between 16-22 develop at a faster rate. Players at this age need to at least have 35 official matches per year. So, this league is a good addition as it addresses the lack of competitive matches that collegiate players have,” said Gonzales, who was part of the UP champion squad in 2001 and 2002 and a national team member in 2000, 2003, 2006-2007 and 2012.
He mentioned NCAA squads San Beda and St. Benilde and UAAP teams FEU, UST and De La Salle as the teams to beat in the month-long tournament.
San Beda coach Jeffrey Liman shared Gonzales’ view, but said that he wants the Red Lions to enjoy the experience.
“Sa amin naman, laban lang,” said Liman, who steered the SBC to the 2011 championship at the expense of top rival College of St. Benilde.