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Atin ‘to: Paul Desiderio etches a legacy of swag in UP Maroons’ lore

/ 09:55 PM November 28, 2018
Paul Desiderio

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

There’s one phrase that will be forever attached to Paul Desiderio’s college career.

“Atin’ to.”

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The myth, the legend, grew out of a called game winner last season, when Desiderio told his University of the Philippines teammates “atin ‘to” in a huddle before nailing a game-winning triple.

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He didn’t need to repeat the words again, but everyone knew Desiderio would lay claim to the game when everything went down the line in overtime against the Adamson Falcons.

“There was no play called, that was all him,” said UP coach Bo Perasol in Filipino, moments after a pulsating 89-87 victory Wednesday that propelled the Fighting Maroons to the UAAP Finals for the first time in 32 years.

“Ang kapal talaga ng mukha nito,” Perasol joked.

“You all saw he had several misses already,” Perasol added. “But he knows that when it’s for the win, he’s going to shoulder the responsibility. He’s the one that always kept telling us, even when Juan [Gomez de Liaño] was in foul trouble and Bright [Akhuetie] was tired, not to have any doubts.”

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Atin ‘to.

This is ours.

The clock was winding down to the last 40 seconds and Adamson was ahead by a point when Desiderio nailed a wide open trey to give UP the lead, 87-85.

After a tense sequence that knotted the count, Desiderio iced the final count with a short jumper.

Atin ‘to.

This is ours.

The night before the game, Desiderio reminisced on his years in UP. He went through a lot. He watched the school go 0-14. He witnessed a one-win season. This was a program where a lone victory was enough cause for celebration.

“For 30 years, we were the butt of jokes… the basketball team didn’t have the bragging rights,” Perasol said.

Desiderio said he was glad to have witnessed the Maroons’ turnaround.

“Before, we didn’t have prized recruits. We didn’t have budget,” Desiderio told the Inquirer in Filipino. “ Now, you can see the UP program is rising.”

And so is the team’s confidence, no thanks to a skipper whose belief in himself and his team never wavered.

“I’m very, very happy especially since I am graduating already,” Desiderio said after his clutch performance that set up a Finals duel with overwhelming favorites Ateneo. “Whatever chance we have in the Finals, we’re going to grab it.”

At the very least, the Maroons will have their captain on board for two more games. No matter how much of an underdog UP will be against the defending champions, Desiderio won’t let his team go down without a fight.

He proved that with Adamson in the Final Four, where he wasn’t about to let a historic run come to an end just yet.

Whatever happens against Ateneo, those final five points that booted out the No. 2 Falcons will be Desiderio’s enduring legacy—a swagger that frustrating seasons could not drown, a confidence that bad shooting nights cannot deflate.

“Syempre, atin ‘to.”

This is ours.

For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity.

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TAGS: Paul Desiderio, Sports, UAAP Finals, UP Maroons
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