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Paul Desiderio ready to bring ‘Atin to’ fire to Blackwater

/ 09:58 PM January 15, 2019

For someone picked fourth in a draft that was supposedly lacking in depth, Paul Desiderio will have some of the spotlight trained on him.

Most of it will be residue sheen from his stint with University of the Philippines in the UAAP, where he ended a career that took on folk hero proportions when he led the Maroons to their first Finals stint in decades.

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But he feels little pressure. What he embraces is the challenge.

“At this point, all I really want to gain is the experience,” Desiderio told the Inquirer during the recent PBA media day.

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He knows he has to find his niche in Blackwater coach Bong Ramos’ system, a search that should be easier after the Elite dealt away Paul Zamar.

Desiderio fits the Zamar profile. He is a gutsy playmaker who isn’t afraid to take shots. Even when he isn’t making them, he has enough self -faith to call game winners, an aspect of his personality that gave rise to the #AtinTo movement inside the Diliman campus.

Now if he can only earn the minutes to prove he can knock down big-time shots in the pros.

“I spoke with coach Bong and he told me I will get my chance to prove myself,” Desiderio said in Filipino.

He promises he hasn’t loss an ounce of the confidence and swagger that endeared him to a school that finally crawled out of collegiate basketball’s underbelly.

“I’m going to be the same players,” said Desiderio. “What Blackwater is going through is the same as what UP went through when I was there. So I’m going to do my best to do with Blackwater what I helped achieve in UP.”

Blackwater will unveil Desiderio at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum, where the Elite make their Philippine Cup debut against NorthPort.

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The Batang Pier will be spearheaded by Stanley Pringle, who will carry some sort of a chip in his shoulder after finishing second to June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer in the race for the MVP trophy.

Fajardo won his fifth straight MVP during last Sunday’s Leo Awards that preeded the opening ceremonies of the 44th season of the league.

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