EMOTIONS ran high as Bo Perasol gathered the University of the Philippines squad for one last time in UAAP Season 81.
Perasol stood proudly as the players formed a circle around him, giving one last pep talk to this special team as the Maroon-clad State U fans filled the Smart Araneta Coliseum with deafening chants of “UP Fight.”
They fell short of the championship, but Perasol held his head high having helped turn the ‘Fighting Maroons’ into ‘Winning Maroons.’
“Yung sinabi ko sa kanila, we cannot be focusing on what just happened. Right now after the game, we have to focus on the whole season,” Perasol said after the heartbreaking 99-81 loss to Ateneo in Game Two of the UAAP Finals.
“We can’t be myopic in saying that we lost the game, of course we lost, but all in all, we became champions in our own rights,” he added.
The image of Perasol in the middle with his players standing by him was the perfect way to describe the Maroons' season.
A slow start to the season had the UP coach questioning if this team has what it takes to end years of disappointment and heartbreaks.
As the losses piled up, questions inevitably came up about Perasol’s ability to handle this team. Perasol admitted he doubted himself, but his team stood by him.
Needing to win the final two games of the eliminations and two more in the semis against twice-to-beat Adamson, the Fighting Maroons did the unthinkable and made it to the finals for the first time in 32 years.
Perasol wanted his players to see the season from that perspective.
“We already accomplished that. We already did it. While we enjoy the consequences of that, the praises, adulation of people, the crowd, we need to move on after that,” said Perasol.
“Right now it’s December time, we’re about to rest, we have to enjoy the moment first, because we didn’t have the time to enjoy those accomplishments that we had,” he added.