From 0-14 to Final 4: Sacrifices pay off for UP skipper Desiderio | Inquirer Sports

From 0-14 to Final 4: Sacrifices pay off for UP skipper Desiderio

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 05:37 PM November 15, 2018

For Paul Desiderio, it’s all about sacrifice.

From an undisputed offensive option, Desiderio had to settle with being a secondary and sometimes a tertiary role for University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament.

Desiderio, though, knew it was all for the greater good.

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The Fighting Maroons qualified for their first Final Four in more than a decade when they secured the no.3 spot in the standings with a rousing victory over De La Salle, 97-81, Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

READ: UP stuns La Salle, returns to UAAP Final Four after 21 years 

And in the middle of the celebration was Desiderio who gladly took a backseat for his teammates Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez De Liaño.

“I sacrificed a lot in my last year,” said Desiderio in Filipino. “I even contemplated if I will go back to UP or not so when I stayed I really had to sacrifice a lot of my personal goals.”

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Desiderio was the team’s first offensive option in Season 80 averaging 16.6 points a game but he had to take up a support role for this year with the arrival of center Bright Akhuetie and the development of Rookie of the Year Juan Gomez De Liaño.

Akhuetie, prior to the game against the Green Archers, became the team’s leading scorer with 19.1 points to go along 13.5 rebounds while Gomez De Liaño was at 15.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists.

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READ: Bonfire! UP Maroons end 2 decades of Final 4 absence

Desiderio still held respective numbers of 14.2 rebounds and 5.9 rebounds, a markdown from his previous offensive numbers but a welcome development nonetheless since the team finished the eliminations with an 8-6 record, a complete inverse from UP’s 6-8 finish in Season 80.

“I sacrificed a lot for the team but it was all worth it,” said Desiderio who had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals against the Green Archers.

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The Final Four entry was also a personal vindication for Desiderio whose rookie year with the Fighting Maroons ended in a disaster—a 0-14 record.

“This is an awesome feeling because I was there when we went 0-14 and now we’re in the Final Four,” said Desiderio. “There’s still a chance for the finals, a chance to become the champions, so UP’s still in this!”

TAGS: Paul Desiderio, Sports, UAAP Season 81, University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons

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