The next chapter of the UP Fighting Maroons victorious story promises more wins.
The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament is all over but some people are still talking about the Finals between Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) and the University of the Philippines (UP). Hyped with historic Finals match, fans can hardly wait until next year to see if the UP Fighting Maroons will contend again in only their second Finals appearance in 33 years.
Key players such as Paul Desiderio had played their last year, to be replaced by new faces in the team. Bright Akhuetie will be back with transferees Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras. What’s your bet that the UP community comprising both students and alumni will flock together again, to battle it out and hopefully win the championship?
This past season’s Finals appearance is like a constant reminder of then and now. In past years, it was just candid opinion to comment on the Fighting Maroons with statements like: “Laglag agad ‘yan.” Next season, UP will have a showbiz aura; with Rivero being the 2018 Most Tweeted Filipino Athlete aside from starring in the Metro Manila Film Fest (MMFF) entry, “Otlum.” How did the UP Men’s Basketball team arrive at this point? Three things we need to consider:
- They brought in a coach with a good system, and knows how to motivate players;
- A good recruitment process for players was set in place. Let’s not forget UP has campuses all over the Philippines. To name a few: in Iloilo, Baguio, and Cebu, where both Desiderio and Jun Manzo hail from; and finally
- A strong import with a lot of heart.
You know when they say both teams in the Finals deserve to be named champions? Ateneo just had too much firepower, and Akhuetie had the tough luck to be injured again in Game 1. Both teams, however, gave their all for the fans.
For UP, those fans can be entire generations of a family who remember the many landmarks of the Diliman campus. One generation having walked along the corridors of the Faculty Center, and another generation having seen the building ravaged by fire. One generation having had haircuts or bought books in the U.P. Shopping Center, and a younger one seeing it all go up in flames.
If or when the Maroons reach the UAAP Final Four or even the Finals next season, expect those fans to return en masse with a louder #UPFIGHT cheer.
— UP Maroons Return to UAAP MBT Final Four After 21 Years
— Here Come the Sons: UAAP Ballers Whose Fathers Played for the Same Alma Mater
— Anton Asistio: A Captain’s Farewell
— Ateneo MBT coach Tab Baldwin reflects on Blue Eagles’ back-to-back win
— #UAAP81Finals: Blue Eagles overpower Fighting Maroons in Battle of Katipunan