Manila Jeepney 3, Stallion 2
Last Wednesday Manila Jeepney continued their rich vein of form with a startling upset of title-contenders Stallion at Rizal Memorial.
FEU standout Eric Giganto figured in all three goals. He knocked in Gary Epesso’s cross a few minutes into the match then served Arthur Desmos Kouassi with an absolute peach of a through ball minutes later. Kouassi eased it past Stallion keeper Ref Cuaresma for 2-0.
In the second half Giganto nearly lobbed over Cuaresma. Later on the game, with the beep-beeps nursing a 2-1 lead The Maco, Compostela Valley product finished off a long buildup within the box by spearing past Cuaresma into the top corner.
Giganto seems to operate under the shadow of his more illustrious FEU kinsmen, Nano Amita and Paolo Bugas. But he was the leading scorer in UAAP Season 77. Only a red card prevented him from lifting the Golden Boot award that went to Jinggoy Valmayor.
Giganto has great ball control, has a poacher’s instinct, and judging from the delivery to Kouassi, has passing vision and touch to boot. His work on Jhan Jhan Melliza’s goal in the UAAP final against DLSU was truly breathtaking.
What guts me is that Eric wasn’t able to make the team for the recently concluded SEA Games. He is eligible for the 2017 edition, so I’m hoping he is preparing as early as now. He has the speed and technical skill to make a difference, even though he is a bit undersized for international play.
Jeepney has had a difficult season in the top flight but the last few days have been a very nice Indian Summer for them. Last Sunday they walloped Socceroo 5-0 then this result against a much better side proves they must be taken seriously.
MJ’s defense, led by Rodrigue Nembot, Val Jurao, Reimart Cubon, and Josh Mulero weathered some storms to do just enough to insulate keeper Arjay Joyel from too many shots.
In the other game of the night, Green Archers, who started with eight Filipinos, throttled Kaya 2-0, making this the UFL’s official Upset Wednesday of the year. If my math serves me right, Archers now overtake Kaya for fifth spot.
I missed most of the game but Paolo Pascual, with another bunch of saves, got the MOTM plum. He is on a very short list for most improved player of 2015 for me.
The UFL has always needed parity and a sense of unpredictability to make the competition more exciting. It got a huge dose of that on Wednesday.