UP: What the Final Four now means
In US NCAA basketball, you find the media and coaches underscore a Final Four achievement.
Given the wide range of competition and the “lose-you-go-home” format of the NCAA tournament, you can appreciate why reaching the Final Four is such an accomplishment.
A team may not win the semifinal game and make it to the final dance for the championship, but it will always be a Final Four finisher.
In local college basketball, teams in both the UAAP and the NCAA have almost routinely made it to the semifinal phase.
For many years now, Ateneo and La Salle have been there, with Far Eastern University and lately, Adamson, joining the party.
In the NCAA, San Beda University has been dominant with their championship opponents rotating every so often.
The entry of the University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 81 Final Four is significant. It marks a slight shift in the balance of power as a UP team hasn’t made it to the semifinals in 21 years.
The Fighting Maroons have not had that many winning seasons since the 1986 championship and its last Final Four stint in 1997.
This time, coach Bo Perasol seems to have whipped up a scrappy, fighting crew that could give Adamson a good run in the playoffs.
The only roadblock for UP is that the Soaring Falcons are also hungry to make it to the finals, a clear objective they set out at the start of the season. The Falcons will also have the twice-to-beat edge.
Thus, reaching the UAAP Final Four is a major achievement for UP given their past frustrations which included disappointing finishes in the cellar at times.
Making it to the semifinals is a boost to the large UP community. The State University has many concerns, both within its campus and in national undertakings.
The school tries its utmost best to participate and excel in as many sports as possible and has reaped success on many fronts.
Men’s basketball has always been challenging especially with the aggressive recruitment and training programs of other schools.
UP has had to contend often with fractured and sporadic support from different sectors. Now, the team has clearly turned a corner and will go as far as they can with what they have.
It should be a joyful playoff phase when a sea of maroon enters the venue and the UP community chants its Filipino cheers. Years of not being heard have ended for now.