By Lynde Salgados
CAGAYAN de Oro's Monte Carlo booters, virtually forced to inactivity due to the high cost of practice venue in the city, proved that they're still a force to reckon with.
The Monte Carlo Jap, relying on two breakthrough goals by Emiliano Mabalos Jr., beat Marawi, 3-1 to capture the men's open title of the 1st Russel Cup 5-on-5 Futsal football tourney here last Sunday at the Macasandig gym.
Xavier University's senior varsity team, meanwhile, withstood the fierce challenge of the mighty Ladies Football Club (LFC-09), 2-1 to secure the women's open crown.
Powered by the tandem of karatedo queen Ma. Marna Pabillore and former UAAP-UST (University of Santo Tomas) standout Julie Anne Gerona-Popovic, the LFC-09 earlier bested the two other teams from Xavier University to arrange a final showdown with XU's main squad, the JRFC Green.
"Since wala nay mga ensayo after college days, we did not expect to reach the championship round. Happy sab kaayo ko nga nag-champ akong mga Monte Carlo boys," team-playing manager Gerona-Popovic told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
Held in memory of the late Monte Carlo mainstay Russel "Tugak" Galarrita who died in abroad last December, 2009 due to cardiact arrest, the 5-aside tourney might be held annually in the city under the umbrella of the Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Football Association (CMOFA).
"Memorable nga event kay napukaw pagbalik among interest. Daghan nanga-discourage sukad nga aduna nay mahal nga pulta diha sa atong Pelaez Sports Center," one Monte Carlo player, said.
"Overwhelming kaayo ang response, paid off kaayo ang kahago. Bisan malayo among pamilya kay mag-migrate naman `mi puhon sa Europe, I'll always continue my support to Cagayan de Oro football," added Gerona-Popovic who got married to a Serbian.
For his final game's heroic, Mabalos was adjudged as tournament MVP. While Russel's younger brother RG Galarrita and Julfred Domo got the best defender and best goal keeper awards, respectively.
Completing the Monte Carlo's cast are Macky Yañez, Nicho Palarca, James Sombero, Rolan Cartajena, Jonathan Regusante and second keeper Neil Palarca.
Runner-up MSU-Marawi was made up of Bombet Avenido, Ding Magomnang, Joemar Panganiban, Moloy Baulo, Alma Maongc, Jay-R Mabale, Bobroy Cruz, Bingay Paran and Doy Sarangani.
Comprising the triumphant XU-JRFC Green are distaff MVP Evonnie Urtal, best goal keeper Madeline Veluz, best defender Vanezza Mondero, Julie Cenita, Jancel Jamaca and Joveann Barcena.
Backing up the Popovic-Pabillore pair for the reunited LFC-09 are Carla Samantha Nu¤ez Alabat, Maan Roa, Russel Mendoza, Nyce Jonayon, Bambi Bagayo, Kristine Neri, Margo Laplap and Joanne Abrahano.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 16, 2010.