THE stakes just got higher for Paul Desiderio.
A day after leading the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons to the school's first finals appearance in 32 years, the super senior paid a visit to Bounty Agro Venture's office in Pasig City.
And it was because the 21 year old-native of Liloan, Cebu believes in luck.
"Naniniwala ako sa suwerte. Bago nag-semis, pumunta ako kay Boss Ronald [Mascariñas] at nag-usap kami. Yun nanalo kami kaya pumunta ulit ako dito para ulitin yung suwerte at makuha namin yung championship," shared Desiderio.
Desiderio has identified with Mascariñas.
At a young age, Desiderio made the move to Manila to try and carve his own niche in collegiate basketball. Same with Mascariñas, who moved from Davao to Manila to study at the University of the Philippines.
“Si boss Ronald galing din sa baba – kumbaga iniinsipire niya ako na, kung ano gagawin, huwag kang sumuko kahit anong mangyari,” Desiderio said.
Mascariñas, who supported the Fighting Maroons back in 2016, though had an added surprise for Desiderio.
"Sa tuwa ko at on behalf of the UP community, maluwag sa loob ko na, 'Paul, ibigay mo sa UP community yung championship, you will have a Chooks-to-Go store for life.' Hanggang mag-retire siya, may hanap-buhay siya," the sports patron told Desiderio.
Mascariñas has seen first-hand the struggles and hardships that Desiderio had to go through to get to his point.
"Kami naman, nakita namin yung pangarap ni Paul sa basketball. Among the players, nakita namin na siya yung mas nangangailangan. Kaya kahit wala na yung support namin sa team, we continued supporting Paul," he said.
"Nakita niyo naman sa game, hindi siya nag-give up. Lumaban siya para sa UP."
With this, Desiderio will have an added motivation to win it all for the UP community.