UP wasn’t made in a day
SACRAMENTO, California—It’s as rare as hen’s teeth, but the UP Maroons finally notched their first win in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament last Saturday.
A seemingly mutant bunch from Diliman ended a two-year, 27-game losing skid, defeating Adamson University, 77-64. Prior to Saturday, UP’s last victory was over the University of the East, 63-48, on Aug. 19, 2012.
It must have been horror central for the Maroons—especially the guard-forward combo of Mikee Reyes and JR Gallarza that manufactured the needed shots—to engage in small talk, answer phone calls or check e-mails after another horrendous start at 0-6.
The nagging must have been nonstop about how on earth would UP score a win.
With the state university finally shrugging off the phantasma that has held it back for 700 days or so, Reyes, Gallarza and company can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy laudatory messages for a change.
A win over Adamson—equally struggling at 0-6 in the first round of Season 77—wouldn’t normally spark jubilation. Nevertheless, UP celebrated on the floor and the locker room of the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City after the game.
There were supporters and bashers as well when a bonfire was lit on the Diliman campus as if the school had just clinched the men’s basketball title it last won in 1986.
Inquirer reporter Jasmine Payo, who covers the UAAP observed the gloom over UP and a winning attitude that’s “truly been hard to come by for a squad that dropped all 14 games last season.”
Ms. Payo also chronicled that in 2007 and 2010, UP also wrapped up its campaign with a winless record.
But the moral of the story is perseverance.
New coach Rey Madrid who’s become increasingly fiery for his team, and freshly-installed team manager Dan Palami of Azkals fame preached persistence.
The gospel according to the duo struck a nerve, that UP wasn’t made in a day, and so were the other schools, their scholastic and athletic programs.
The Maroons have delivered a knockout blow of their own for the second round of play.
“All teams start with a first win,” Palami, the national football team godfather said.
Palami hopes the celebration won’t be fleeting for UP and its doggedness to escape from mediocrity in UAAP men’s basketball.
The ancestors of today’s UP squad snatched the men’s crown 28 years ago. Mainstays then included now PBA Hall of Famers Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc and future Hall member Eric Altamirano.
Somehow, the Maroons lost their fangs in the ensuing seasons, but not the ability to grow them back.
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Towson University in Maryland holds the longest losing streak in America’s NCAA Division I basketball history at 41 straight games for a period of 395 days. The Tigers ended their record skid by nailing University of Carolina Wilmington, 66-61 on June 28, 2012.
Over in Division III (for smaller colleges), the worst losing streak (207 games) belongs to the Beavers of the California Institute of Technology.
Like UP, Caltech excels more in academics than sports.