JOE Lipa, architect of University of the Philippines' last championship back in 1986, couldn't watch the games live - but that doesn't mean he doesn't keep a tab on the Fighting Maroons.
Lipa said that his knee problems have kept him from watching the Fighting Maroons in the venue but he was certainly cheering his heart out as the State U made the finals for the first time in theie 87-85 win over Adamson.
"Of course I'm very happy. I was watching the games and I was cheering for them. Both games are great. Both teams came in prepared and in the end it just came down to breaks," said Lipa in a phone call with SPIN.
"In the end I was very happy that UP made the finals but I also admire the way Adamson played," he added.
Lipa said that it was heartbreaking to see UP take more than three decades to return to the grand stage, but the iconic mentor said that there were a lot of factors in that slump
"I feel sad that it took 32 years for UP to be in the finals. They had inherent problems sa UP," said Lipa.
"They were having problems on recruitment, academics, funding - because basketball landscape, collegiate basketball has changed a lot these days. That's why I knew it may take quite sometime," he added.
Lipa's 1986 team produced basketball legends, whether as players or coaches.
In that squad were the likes of Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano and Joey Guanio to name a few - all of which has carved out a name in Philippine basketball one way or another.
Asked if he sees some players in this year's team who could follow the footsteps of those UP greats, Lipa already had a few people in mind.
"(Juan Gomez) De Liano has tremendous potential. (Paul) Desiderio is a winner and (Jun) Manzo is also a good material for the PBA," Lipa shared.
But ultimately, Lipa said that it all changed the moment Bo Perasol came along, as he and his coaching staff led by longtime UP coach Ricky Dandan set a direction.
" I think they have a good coaching staff. Bo is a good tactician, Ricky Dandan is very technically sound, and the other coaches, like Poch Juinio and Alex Cabagnot, they really contributed a lot to the team," said Lipa.
"But of course the key factor is Bo Perasol."