Bursting out of the shadows of his more heralded teammates, midfielder Hikaru Minegishi completed Global’s domination of the United Football League 2016 season by capturing the Golden Ball as the top player of the league.
Playing second fiddle to skipper Misagh Bahadoran in the UFL Cup, the Japan-raised Minegishi, whose mother hails from Olongapo, stood at the forefront of Global’s long and gruelling campaign, serving as linchpin of the attack by firing 18 goals.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Minegishi. “I just wanted to help Global to win this season.”
Global failed to win a single trophy last season, but bounced back this year, piling up 47 points from 19 matches to complete a rare League and Cup double.
JP Voltes stunned Ceres-La Salle, 1-0, on the final day of the season to finish fourth with 41 points. Ceres-La Salle and Loyola also wound up with 41 points, but the Busmen earned second place and an AFC Cup berth due to their superior goal difference.
Other awardees: Global’s Matthew Hartmann, best midfielder; Masaki Yanagawa of JP Voltes, best defender; Nelson Gasic of JP Voltes, best goalkeeper; Adrian Gallardo of Ceres, Golden Boot (30 goals).