Friday, October 21, 2011

Fair Play: Cebu's finest is one of Cebu's finest

(This is my draft of Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Oct. 22)

THOUGH Cebu Queen City United lost its first game to Global FC, 3-0, in the UFL Cup, one Cebuano player—goalkeeper Alex Boanghog stood out.

Jesa Mari (JehBrofar on Twitter), who was a bit turned off by the physical play of some of the Cebu players, tweeted me, “Pero yung keeper nyo, thumbs up!”

Coach Mario Ceniza also rated Boanghog highly, giving him an 8 out of 10.

Who is Alex Boanghog, or more importantly, who is Senior Police Officer 2 Alex Boanghog?

Yep guys, Cebu’s starting keeper is a cop, one whose part-time job could add prestige to the force.

This footballer-turned cop-turned footballer is no stranger to the big leagues and big games and, for his big game last Saturday, none is prouder than Big Jack Biantan, a guy whose passion for Cebu football is unmatched.

Big Jack, whose life story is worthy of a tele-serye, found himself at Don Bosco Boys Home as one of the coaches back in the time when we had a female Aquino for president and then in the time of El Tabako, Jack, coaches Glen Ramos and Francis Ramirez and players like Alex Boanghog, Rocky Garciano, Jan Michael “Jano” Flores and Niño Zapanta among others lifted the Coke-Go-For Goal national title in 1995 for Salazar Institute of Technology.

The best keeper in the tournament? Alex, who joined Rocky, Jano and Ian Uba, who was the MVP in the national finals, to the national U16 team.

“That team was also blessed not because only of hard work but also because we prayed a lot. We prayed the rosary every day and went to mass at the nearby St. Paul’s College beside Ultra,” Jack, who now works in London, told me.

From the Cebu, regional and Visayas elims and national finals, the Cebu team all won their championships matches via shootout.

And the hero of those shootouts? Alex, who’s now the starting keeper for the Cebu Queen City United team, Cebu’s first semi-pro team in the UFL.

You really can’t call them a pro team, though they get paid to play football, because most of the guys are like Alex, they have full-time jobs aside from being part-time paid footballers.

I hope today, SPO2 Boanghog will be up to task again, this time, against the dangerous Stallions FC. The Stallions may have lost to Pachanga, 2-0, but in the Group of Death in the UFL Cup? You can’t discount any team.

Like Alex, Jano and Rocky figure prominently in the Queen City team as the two former PH U19 and senior team members and Philippine Army players are the team captain and assistant team captain, respectively.

And the three of them, like the other members of the Queen City team, have to regain their peak form in so short a time to put Cebu in the UFL map.

Aside from the Don Bosco Boys Home players like the three, and Lemar Baunsit, Dave Gerali, Epifanio Ynot, Ariel Cahilig, a storied group of players—the Carmen Boys—are in the Cebu Queen City United team.

There’s Junard Aguilar, the workhorse striker who at his peak was a nightmare for defenders, Martin Bontia, Jack Reston, Ronald Mahilum, and Josaphat Sacil, who once had a scrimmage against Manchester United youth teams and watched a game at Old Trafford as part of his reward for winning the MVP.

Two teams years apart, now playing together in a bigger stage.

I like the team’s composition, as it’s a mix of Queen City United, Hiroshi and Crazy Horse players. Heck, I think, some of the players have all played in the three clubs and all them have, at one point or another, faced each other.

There’s Frederick Alazas, the former U16 keeper who’s also a defender, Julius Acre, the one with that wicked free kick, Gary Garciano, brothers Yancy and Rene Menchavez, guys like Saddam and Shaq of Abellana among others.

So today, let’s support Cebu Queen City United. Besides, cheering for your own team is the perfect reason to watch TV on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

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