[Here's Part V of our special preview for UAAP Season 79]
Season 78 review: Finished last in a tie with Adamson at 3-11 (win-loss)
Key holdovers: Jett Manuel, Diego Dario, Dave Moralde, Paul Desiderio, Kyles Lao
Key losses: JR Gallarza, Chieck Kone
Newcomers: Javi Gomez de Llano, John Espanola
NEW University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol isn’t about to proclaim the Fighting Maroons as Final Four contenders in his first year at the helm. He only wants this season to be the start of something big for his long-suffering alma mater,
“Alam naman namin na it’s going to be difficult kasi change will entail winning. Ang gusto naming mangyari is ano ba ‘yung magagawa namin sa program that will change the course or direction of the program in the years to come?” said Perasol, who took over UP after three years with Ateneo.
For starters, Perasol, a former PBA coach who guided Air21 and Coca-Cola to finals appearances, instituted changes in their practice routine that hopes to instill a winning culture in the team.
“Alam ko namang mahirap pero gusto kong magkaroon ng lasting influence about what we want to happen. Eto sana ‘yung magiging start ng upward trend. In my mind, what I want is five years from now, we will look back na somebody started an upward change sa program,” said Perasol.
The Maroons practically have an intact lineup with only two rookies in former UPIS cager Javier Gomez de Llano and John Espanola. Staying for another year are Diego Dario, Paul Desiderio, Dave Moralde, and Jett Manuel, while Kyles Lao returns after an ACL injury forced him to sit out last year.
Perasol also instituted a system that fits the undersized Maroons.
“Although we are not as talented and big as the others, kahit papaano meron kaming pwedeng ilaban kahit magiging undersized kami,” Perasol said.
But Perasol is realistic about UP’s chances of making it to the Final Four. His short-term goal is to improve their win-loss slate from last year.
“Kahit gusto ko, walang maniniwala na makakapasok kami sa Final Four. Pero nasa likod ng isip namin ‘yan,” said Perasol.
“Ang immediate goal namin is gusto namin ng evidence of improvement. Who knows? Basta healthy lang mga players ko, may chance. But our immediate goal is to get more wins than last year,” he added.