Global FC midfielder Hikaru Minegishi captured the Golden Ball as the United Football League 2016 season that closed curtains Sunday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The 24-year-old Minegishi, whose mother hails from Olongapo, scored 18 goals, playing a vital role on attack as Global romped to the league title to complete a rare UFL double.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Minegishi, who grew up in Sendai, Japan. “I wanted to help Global to win this season especially after the disappointing finish last year.”
With Minegishi in fine form all season long, Global, which was shut out of trophies last year, collected 47 points from 19 matches.
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.
Global actually wrapped up the title with a game to spare.
Led by skipper Misagh Bahadoran and coach John Burridge, Global collected the “Old Lady” – the UFL’s perpetual trophy for league champions – during the awarding rites Sunday night.
The other individual awardees include Global’s Matthew Hartmann as best midfielder, Masaki Yanagawa of JP Voltes as best defender and Nelson Gasic of JP Voltes as best goalkeeper. Adrian Gallardo of Ceres retained his Golden Boot trophy with 30 goals this season
Japan-raised midfielder Alen Angeles scored the only goal of the game in the first half as JP Voltes stunned Ceres-La Salle.
Angeles bundled home a saved effort by Takumi Uesato, before Voltes rode the heroics of Nelson Gasic late on to become the only team this season to beat both Global and Ceres.
With second place secured after Loyola Meralco was held to a 2-2 draw by Stallion, Ceres coasted through the early goings, allowing Voltes to grab the upperhand. Stephan Schrock was sent off for a clumsy challenge on Camelo Tacusalme, while substitute Manny Ott also saw red for dissent in the second half, compounding Ceres’ woes.