TALISAY, Cebu – Taguig finally won the AIA Vitality 7s Kampeon Cup after settling two runner-up finishes by beating Iloilo, 4-2, in the championship match at Dynamic Herb Borromeo Sports Complex here on Sunday.
Taguig, coached by 7's Football League founder Anton Del Rosario, put on a dominant stand in the first 20 minutes, but it took an MJ Libre goal in the comeback period to finally hold off Iloilo.
Iloilo struck first in the eighth minute when James Tuazon found an opening off Taguig's defensive lapse.
However, Tyler John answered quickly to force a 1-all tie.
James Pachejo put Taguig in the lead in the 13th minute, while John completed his brace just before halftime.
Iloilo intensified its defense in the second period and it bore fruit in the 34th minute as Kenneth Lecoto scored the lone goal of the frame to cut Taguig's lead to 3-2.
Needing to score twice in succession in the comeback period to steal the win, Iloilo had a lot of chances to score in the extra session, especially when players got taken out gradually.
However, in the 18th minute of the comeback period and the match was down to a 3-on-3, Libre picked an Iloilo back-pass on their end and slotted the needed goal to ice Taguig's win.
"Sobrang saya dahil pinagkatiwalaan kami ng coach namin na ipasok ako uli noong time na 3v3 na, and nakuha ‘yung goal na ‘yun dahil nagtulung-tulong ‘yung team (I'm so happy because we were entrusted by our coach to bring me into the match when it was already a 3-on-3, and we got the goal because the team worked together)," Libre told the Philippine News Agency after the match.
It was a "curse reversal" for Taguig as it lost its first two finals against Cebu, including the inaugural staging at its homecourt, McKinley Hill Stadium.
Taguig ousted Cebu, 3-2, in the semifinals on Saturday night after scoring twice in the comeback period to cancel Cebu's 2-1 lead at the end of regulation.
"It's a long time coming. We've been working hard to be able to get to this point. We've been in the finals three times in a row. It's finally due for us. Our curse is gone, and I'm proud of the boys. They stepped up. They played until the end," Del Rosario said.
Wearing his league executive hat, Del Rosario said that plans are now set for the fourth edition, which will take place simultaneously with the second edition of the women's division. The venue will be revealed in the coming days. (PNA)