PAUL Desiderio feeling excited of playing again for University of the Philippines in Season 78 of the UAAP could be an understatement.
Desiderio skipped suiting up for the Maroons last season after getting a rare opportunity to play for the national team in the 2014 Fiba Under-17 World Championship in Dubai.
And so, after a one-year absence Desiderio couldn’t help but look forward to his return stint with the Diliman-based school for this year’s edition of the collegiate league, which opens on Saturday.
“Sobrang gigil ako maglaro ngayon. Baka mula ngayon hanggang September 5, baka hindi na ako makatulog,” Desiderio told Spin.ph.
Desiderio’s stint with the national team was relatively an impressive one after scoring 25 points in the lone win by the Batang Gilas over United Arab Emirates during the world meet.
He also played a key role to the Maroons’ successful title run in the Filsports Basketball Association (FBA) during the offseason.
In his comeback with the Maroons, the 18-year-old Cebuano hotshot admitted his role has become bigger under new head coach Rensy Bajar and lead assistant Joe Ward.
“Rookie year ko, medyo limitado ‘yung oras ng paglalaro ko. Tapos hindi ko pa magawa ‘yung laro ko. Ngayon, hinahayaan ako nila coach na gawin ‘yung laro ko,” said the UP prolific shooting guard.
While his ability to score in international tournaments is a proven one, Desiderio said it is more imperative to get his teammates involve on offense.
“Create muna ako kasi napansin ko na maganda ‘yung laro ko, maganda rin ‘yung laro ng iba. Kahit papaano nabibigay ko rin ‘yung scoring, pero mas okay kung balanse. May assists, rebounds, lahat. ‘Yung score kasi, hindi mo masabi kasi kung puro score nga, talo naman, wala pa rin,” said Desiderio.
He admitted having his share of disappointments playing for an also-ran UP squad during his rookie year.
But unlike in the past, Desiderio believes this year’s UP team will definitely be more competitive.
“Mas malakas ngayon. May import na kami, at least may threat kami sa post. ‘Yung mga ibang rookies, ginagawa nila ‘yung role nila. May maipapakita kami,” he said.