Progression over perfection is the mantra that seems to keep the DLSU Men’s Football Team going throughout the previous editions of the UAAP. The Green Booters look to pick up from where they left off as they improved from a sixth place finish in Season 79 to a fourth place finish in Season 80. Following last season’s Final Four appearance, the Green-and-White has undergone substantial changes and is vying to bring the crown back to Taft.
The LaSallian caught up with interim head coach Alvin Ocampo and team captain Jed Diamante to discuss what transpired during the off season for the Green Booters in preparation for the upcoming UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football tournament.
Takeaways from last season
“Actually, last season, parang half-baked yung team. Some players exhibited their individuality, so hindi sila [as a] team naglaro,” remarks Ocampo. He notes that the team has addressed this issue, as evidenced by their performance in the various preseason tournaments they participated in.
(Actually, last season, the team seemed half-baked. Some players exhibited their individuality, so they didn’t play as a team.)
“It’s more on continuity lang naman. We continue yung system na in–implement ni coach Hans. We try [to] improve also, tapos yung work ethic ng mga players, yan ang ini-instill pa rin namin, yung pagtrabaho sa loob ng field at yung intensity,” he adds as they set out to bring glory to La Salle.
(It’s just more on continuity. We continue the system implemented by coach Hans. We try to improve also, and the work ethic of the players, that’s what we still try to instill, their effort on the field and their intensity.)
In the months prior to their main tournament for the year, the Men’s Football Team has been showing steady signs of improvement. The team has been tirelessly preparing and has gained more exposure by participating in various preseason tournaments. According to Ocampo, the evidence of the team’s good shape can be seen in the results of their tournaments. “In most of the tournaments, nag-place yung men’s team. They won the Ang Liga, placed third in Pilipinas Cup, and placed second in Sagay, Negros,” he elaborates.
Diamante shares that their training sessions were geared toward their adeptness, both on defense and offense. “Yung first half ng training namin, the one before Pilipinas Cup, we focused more on team defending—the movement off the ball. Right after Pilipinas Cup, that was when we started incorporating the attacking drills—more on field skills,” he states. Additionally, clarifying the system to the rookies has been a priority for the team.
Changes in the roster
As there were new additions to the team, there were also several players who had to turn in their jerseys. Former Team Captain Noel Brago alongside Paeng De Guzman have completed their five year residency in UAAP but are still enrolled in La Salle. Nicko Villacin, on the other hand, has both graduated and exhausted his UAAP residency already.
Diamante, however, believes that the rookies will be ready to represent DLSU once their UAAP season starts, citing that he had played with some of them before at the youth national team. He also observed that the rookies have been giving their all, performing well in the pre-season tournaments, past trainings—showing their worth to the team.
As of press time, the lineup of the Men’s Football team has not yet been revealed, as the coaches are still carefully selecting who will be representing La Salle in the upcoming tournament. However, Diamante mentions Shanden Vergara, John Rhey Lagura, Christian Peñalosa, John Vincent Eduave, Jovan Marfiga, and Gerald Abao as potential players to fill in the gaps left by the graduating players. “All of them are our newly recruited members coming from different provinces,” he adds.
Working on team chemistry
With a diverse pool of talented players ready to represent DLSU, Diamante feels the weight of being the captain now more than ever. However, he knows he is not alone in managing the players. Aside from the coaches, there stands co-captain Alcantara and the other seniors of the team, all ready to pitch in to help in handling the Green Booters.
In addition to learning technical skills during practices, Diamante wants to instill to the rest of the team, especially to the rookies, the discipline and focus needed once they’re inside the football pitch. Outside of the field, team chemistry is the focal point that he seeks to improve on in preparation for the UAAP—particularly the character development of the players.
“We realized na for the past years na kung ano man yung chemistry ng team outside, we can bring it inside. So we’re in the process of rebuilding the team, trying talaga to improve…trying to jell the new players with the old ones,” affirms the team captain.
(We realized now that for the past years, whatever chemistry the team had outside, we can bring it inside. So we’re in the process of rebuilding the team, we’re really trying to jell the new players with
the old ones.)
The key mindset
Ocampo emphasized that the team should be prepared to go against every team they face. This mindset is also supported by Diamante as he states that La Salle will look and play every game differently. “We can’t say na some teams lang talaga magagaling kasi the level of football as we saw last year also, talagang paangat. Wala ka nang masasabi na may talunan na teams, merong teams na unbeatable,” Diamante explains.
(We can’t say that some teams are better than the others because the level of football, as we saw last year, also has been improving steadily. We can no longer say there are teams that are beatable or unbeatable.)
Through all of the changes the team has gone through and the preparations leading toward the UAAP, Diamante is confident that his team will make waves this Season 81. “Talagang positive kami, positive kami toward training. Positive kami toward each other, and we’re really positive na we will be showing [everyone] a different type of La Salle this year,” he elaborates.
(We’re really positive, we’re positive toward training. We’re positive toward each other, and we’re really positive that we will be showing [everyone] a different type of La Salle this year.)