THE ‘fight’ in the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons has definitely returned last year in the first season under coach Bo Perasol.
Winning five games, the most since UAAP Season 68, and more than the total wins in the last four seasons, the Maroons have renewed hope for the upcoming Season 80.
With an almost intact core from last season, led by team captain Paul Desiderio, Diego Dario, UP has a balanced roster to make up for the departure of former star Jett Manuel and bruiser Dave Moralde.
There’s Kyles Lao, Noah Webb, and new recruit Jun Manzo along with the Gomez de Liaño brothers Javi and Juan. Down low, the Maroons have Andrew Harris and possibly Ibrahim Quattara, pending the appeal of the decision to rule out the import for the season.
Yet even with such uncertainty in the roster, Perasol has full confidence that the winning culture has already grown enough for the Maroons to make their Final Four dream a reality this season.
“Our initial goal is Final Four, kasi kapag pumasok ka na doon anything goes na,” he said. “When I took over (early last year) ang una naming iniisip is to get out of the losing mentality.”
For Desiderio, his personal goal as a graduating player, is to make it to the Final Four. And after almost tasting it last year, the Cebuano guard isn’t about to let the chance slip away this time around.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, stick lang tayo sa goal natin, walang kakalas sa grupo para makuha natin ang goal natin,” he said.
“Sinasabi ko sa kanila 'yun, papasok kami ng Final Four before ako aalis ng UP,” he added.
UP will take on University of Santo Tomas on Sunday at the MOA Arena. Here’s a glimpse of how they prepared this season.