From struggling times to finals stint, UP seniors write perfect ending to UAAP career
MANILA, Philippines—The most successful batch in University of the Philippines’ basketball history in 32 years was also part of its darker days.
Gelo Vito, Diego Dario, and Jarrell Lim all became Fighting Maroons in Season 77, where they finished with a miserable 1-13 record. Captain Paul Desiderio, meanwhile, was part of the Season 76 squad that went an historic 0-14.
Nevertheless, the Fighting Maroons are leaving UP as part of history after finishing as the year’s runners-up behind champion Ateneo in Season 81.
And those four players, who were wide-eyed youngsters during UP’s dark days, are now the hardened veterans who have been through hell and back.
“We are just really grateful because we’ve reached a whole new another level because we started always on the losing end, we’re always teased that we’re always losing, and we’ve reached this far,” said Lim after UP’s 99-81 loss in Game 2 Wednesday. “You can’t write a better story than that.”
The Fighting Maroons had a steady climb throughout from Seasons 77 to 80 continuously improving their win-loss records every year.
UP narrowly missed the Final Four in 2017 when it took a 6-8 record as the no.5 team.
Vito said this steady climb to relevance is all part to UP head coach Bo Perasol’s leadership.
“Coach Bo really pushed us to have a mindset that you have to act like winners and practice like winners and we’re thankful that he brought that culture to UP because if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be here,” said Vito.
Dario added their finals stint was bigger than basketball and that UP will always remain a destination for aspiring Fighting Maroons for solely its education.
UP is the country’s premier state university and is often ranked as the best performing school in terms of academics.
“I think even if we didn’t make the Final Four or finals UP’s still a go-to for freshmen because UP’s still the State University in terms of quality education,” said Dario.
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