UP ends UAAP Season 79 ‘like family’
There are stories in the UAAP Season 79 seniors’ basketball tournament that sometimes seem predetermined, like La Salle’s expected dominance and Far Eastern University’s stability.
Then there are plots that just seem to play out through the course of the season; Ateneo’s gradual improvement to the road to the second seed and University of Santo Tomas’ embarrassing futility.
And there are those that just tugs at the heartstrings like University of the Philippines’ inspiring, yet heartbreaking, campaign.
UP ended the season with a 5-9 record, the sixth-best in the eight team league, but it was the Fighting Maroons’ spirit to compete for a Final Four spot that made them the darlings of the season.
And this all started because of the guts and heart of three seniors that was determined to leave a program that would erase years of frustration.
“Going through five years in the program na sobrang gulo, winless seasons, it was hard and this season was too much for me,” said Jett Manuel, who played his final game in a UP jersey Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “We came into the season na hindi pa connected, we ended it like a family.”
Bo Perasol took the helm from Renzy Bajar as head coach and the UP alum would lead the team to its best record since 2006 when the Fighting Maroons finished with a 4-8 record.
And if the Fighting Maroons were the face of disappointment for the previous four years in the league, a span when they produced an overall 5-51 record, a couple of other seniors will leave Diliman full of pride realizing that what they left is the foundation for better seasons.
“Nakikita ko pagbabago ng team, coming from na mga talo, slowly umaangat UP and masaya ako na naabutan ko,” said Henry Asilum. “Sobrang saya ko na ga-graduate kami na kasama sa nag-build ng winning culture ng UP.”
For Dave Moralde, someone who was part of the famed Super Six of the title-winning San Beda team in 2012, his transfer to UP is still a source of pride for him.
“For me, I’m so thankful and forever grateful to be part of the UP Maroons with what we achieved,” said Moralde. “Coming from a winning team, and na experience ko sa UP na talunan pero ngayon ang laki na ng improvement. Masaya ako.”
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