THE UNIVERSITY of the Philippines was already a heavy underdog even before the UAAP Season 81 Finals started. After that Game One loss to Ateneo, the odds just went exponentially higher.
History doesn’t favor the Fighting Maroons at all. A quick look at the records and some verification from league chief statistician Pong Ducanes show that only four teams over the past 20 seasons have come back from a 0-1 deficit in the UAAP Finals.
La Salle did it twice, stunning University of Santo Tomas in Seasons 62 and 76. UST did the trick in Season 69 against Ateneo while National University became the last team to overcome that deficit when it stunned Far Eastern University in Season 77.
The odds may be stacked against them, but Bo Perasol remains confident that they have learned a lot from Game One to have a chance to turn this around.
“Ang pinakamaganddang take away namin from that game was the realization that we could compete with the defending champions. Ang importante lang we need to play better on both ends, we need to do it for 40 minutes, lahat yan na-realize namin nung Game One,” said Perasol in a short chat with SPIN.ph.
“We just have to do it. Yun ang key diyan e. Yun ang nakita ko during that game. Importante kasi may lesson, you need to take something away from that game. You can see it in them that they’re always in high spirit,” he added.
The finals history isn’t the only thing against State U. After that Game One loss, the Fighting Maroons are now 3-28 against their Katipunan neighbors over the 15 years.
But Perasol believes this is a different situation altogether. Nobody expected them to be here in the first place before the season began – and not many people believe that they have what it takes to beat the Blue Eagles but themselves.
At the end of the day, that personal belief is all that matters for the Fighting Maroons.
“They know, they were given the opportunity to fight for that crown. It's already a privilege for us to be here. Wag natin palalagpasin. They understand that blessing of being in the finals. This wasn’t what we have specifically planned before the season,” said Perasol.
All Perasol was asking for was a chance to be in this position – now that they have it, the soft-spoken head coach urges his squad not to waste the opportunity.
“When you ask us if we’re going to the finals, we would hesitate to say that and nobody will believe us. Yun ang mga bagay na iniisip namin, pero since we’re here, we have to do everything in our power para mabigyan naman ng saysay ang opportunity.”