MANILA, Philippines - The Bandits, drawing a breakout performance from rookie quarterback Pereme Alina, beat the Juggernauts, 25-8, to complete a three-peat in the ArenaBall Philippines Championship at the wet Marikina Sports Park field in Marikina City over the weekend.
Alina came away with an 18-yard passing touchdown to WR Nico Faller and two rushing touchdowns to anchor the Bandits’ first victory over the Juggernauts in the season and third straight in as many seasons of the league.
League MVP RB Johnny Babaran tries to save the day for the Juggernauts but just couldn’t get through the Bandits’ defense composed of their LB trio of Jack Roxas, John Dang and Jeremy Nadado along with their DL line of Robb Couture, Mike Garcia and the season’s top defensive man JP Suarez.
US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr., an avid football fan, and Marikina Mayor Del De Guzman graced the championship match.
The Bandits, who subdued the Rebels, 2-0, in the semis, took the half at 6-0 before the two teams struggled in the rains in the final half.
The Juggernauts, who stormed past the Wolves, 27-0, to get to the finals, first cashed in on the wet condition as league leader of sacks DL Jay Juanatas tackled Alina in the Bandits’ end zone for a safety. But the Bandits’ defense held again after the ensuing free kick and on their next possession, Alina made up for a previous miscue with an 18-yard TD to pad their lead to 13-2.
Halfway through the fourth quarer, Juggernauts’ WB Paul Reyes threw a short touchdown pass to WR Wally dela Cruz, cutting the lead to 8-13, But Alina struck again, this time with a 60-yard TD run, giving the Bandits another 11-point lead and forcing the Juggernauts to try to pass in heavy rains in their desperate bid to score.
CB James Dimagiba then made an interception 35 yards for another Bandits’ touchdown for the final score.
“I can honestly say that this does not get old,” said Bandits’ coach/RB Will Yeh. “The Juggernauts had our numbers all year, winning both times we faced them in the regular season. But our guys stuck together and now we can say: ‘We are the Bandits and we are still your ABP champions.’”
Meanwhile, the league, backed by Banapple, Muscletape, Dragon Fireworks, Idea Lab Events and Promotions, Hooters Philippines and The Philippine STAR, will hold clinics and tryouts for the league’s new four teams – the Manila Dark Knights, Iloilo Warriors, Butuan Lawins and the Subic Hornets – for the 2013 Season 4.
For details, visit www.arenaballphilippines.com.ph or contact 0917-5290821.