NOW Ryan Gregorio can put to rest his long-kept photo with former University of the Philippines teammate Dolreich 'Bo' Perasol in favor of a new one.
Gregorio made sure to snap a selfie with Perasol on Wednesday night shortly after the Fighting Maroons came back from the grave in overtime and stunned the Adamson Falcons, 89-87, to reach the UAAP men’s basketball finals for the first time in 32 years.
The former PBA champion coach couldn’t help but turn nostalgic after seeing his friend and former teammate finally succeed in resuscitating a school program that has been moribund for the past three decades.
That includes the time when Perasol and Gregorio shared backcourt chores with the Fighting Maroons from 1992 to 1994, when one of their photos together was taken while in their school jerseys.
Gregorio, a former UP team captain, couldn’t even remember how the team’s campaign went during the time the two played together.
“For sure, we never made the Final Four. Actually, hindi ko na matandaan,” said Gregorio, still ecstatic after UP overcame the twice-to-beat advantage of second-seed Adamson to earn the right to face defending champion Ateneo in the finals.
“But what I remember is when he towed our team to the finals after facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage against Adamson.”
Among their teammates then were former Alaska player Poch Juinio, Harlan Yu, national women's team and NU Lady Bulldogs coach Pat Aquino, Jasper Javier, and former league Rookie of the Year Paul Du, with Rey Madrid as coach.
Both Gregorio and Perasol would later move into coaching and even found themselves facing each other during their time in the PBA – Ryan as the man at the helm of the Purefoods franchise and later with Meralco, and Perasol with Powerade.
But while Gregorio has retired from coaching to take on an executive job at Meralco, Perasol continued his coaching career, eventually finding himself returning to Diliman to call the shots for his alma mater.
“He believed that it is his own little way of giving back to the university that has given him enough blessing,” said Gregorio, who also works as special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio and chief scout of Team Pilipinas under coach Yeng Guiao.
The title series against Ateneo may be an all different story together, but whatever happens, Gregorio is just so happy to see the Fighting Maroons come back to life under the guidance of a former UP colleague.
“Bo did the impossible and I am just so proud that a former teammate is now the main man at the helm, who not only proved his detractors wrong, but he turned UP into believers,” he said.