PAUL Desiderio may be bound for new heights, but don't tell the Cebuano guard to get over the euphoria of University of the Philippines making it to the UAAP Season 81 Finals just yet.
"Nandoon pa rin yung saya. Wala pa akong pahinga, pero ramdam ko pa rin yung nagawa namin sa UP," he professed on Wednesday during the 2018 PBA Gatorade Draft Combine.
Already considered as a cult hero for the Fighting Maroons largely thanks to his now-legendary "Atin 'To" mantra and all the more for leading UP to its first championship appearance in 32 years, Desiderio knows that the wave of momentum he garnered from his alma mater could only help him for the better, especially now that he's making the jump to the pro league.
"Napakalaking tulong yun. Kung di kami umabot sa Finals, di naman ako makikilala ng lahat," said the 21-year-old playmaker who's been known for his clutch genes and brave heroics for Diliman. "Talagang ginawa ko ang best para manalo kami sa UP at umangat ang pangalan ko rin, kaya sana madala ko yun."
He'd be the first, though, to know the dangers of having that success shadowing him, too, with the hefty expectations thrown his way ahead of the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.
"Nakaka-pressure sa akin yun. Galing kami ng UAAP Finals at alam ko na yung UP community, mataas din ang expectation sa akin pag akyat ko dito sa PBA," he said.
Once Desiderio gets picked, he would join a rare club made up of Jireh Ibanes, Raul Soyud, Jett Manuel, and Mike Gamboa as former Iskos who are now treading their wares in the PBA.
For now, however, Desiderio is focusing on the present.
"Sobrang saya ko na nandito na ako. Di ko ma-explain yung nararamdaman ko. Sobrang excited lang, at lalo pa pagdating ng Linggo. Mas malaking challenge yun para sa akin," he said.