Ateneo's Jaypee Merida on defending UAAP football crown without Jarvey Gayoso
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - February 27, 2020 - 12:48pm

MANILA, Philippines – As the Ateneo men’s football team prepares to defend their UAAP title, head coach Jaypee Merida spoke about the upcoming season and dealing with the loss of star striker Jarvey Gayoso.

“As of August of 2019, we already had an idea that Jarvey will not play in his final year,” bared Merida, who won three UAAP titles as a player for Ateneo and now, three as the head coach of the college team. Gayoso informed the coach and the team ahead of time of the possibility of his not coming back and it allowed the team ample time to adjust.

Gayoso, son of former Ateneo star Jay Gayoso and the grandson of Ateneo basketball and football great Ed Ocampo, will be exclusively training with the Philippine men’s national football team while trying to earn an invite to a foreign club.

The younger Gayoso led Ateneo to two football crowns in UAAP Season 79 and 81.

“For me, his decision not to come back — and informing us early — allowed the rest of the team that work that into their mindsets and to step up,” added Merida. “And not having a star player means everyone needs to step up, and I am confident they will.”

Merida will still have goalkeeper AJ Arcilla, winger Mark Nacional, forwards Luca Alleje and Ryan Haosen, midfielders Iñigo Herrera and Colin Mercado, and defender William Grierson, who have been integral parts of the Blue Booters’ makeup in recent years. He will also look to rookies Wilmer Lopez and Sky Guerrero to help out.

Lopez is from a Thailand-based school while Guerrero moved up from the Ateneo high school. 

“All we can do is try our best and approach it one game at a time,” Merida said of the team’s approach to defending the title.

Merida pointed out that it was much harder trying to win a title as a head coach as opposed to when he was a player. “During my time, there wasn’t much of an advantage when you were on top of the group. Now, being on top doesn’t count for much. Competition is much harder and tougher.”

He suited up for Ateneo’s UAAP three-peat from 2004-06 where he played alongside players such as Mickey Ingles, Roger Lastimado, Pat Ozaeta, and the Tongson brothers Tristan and Gino.

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