By: Francis Jasper Fulgar
MANILA – Having to strive in a basketball program wherein funding is far below other UAAP mainstays, it is hard to think of a player who will actually be effective both on the hardcourt and inside the academic halls. UP Men’s Basketball player Joseph Rey Gallarza, however, manages to break this notion by turning out well in the court and in his academics.
The man of the hour has been instrumental in winning the August 9 game with the Adamson University Falcons. He scored 24, while fellow senior Mikee Reyes managed a 28. The win ended the Maroons’ 27-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, he maintains a General Weighted Average of around 1.50, close to getting a Magna Cum Laude finish in the Elementary Education program.
Gallarza was a transferee from the De La Salle University.“Coming from a school where there is so much money, it was kind of a culture shock at first and I love it though because the culture here makes you grow more as a man. You get to face the real struggles of life here before you go the real world. When you are in UP, the struggle is real,” he said.
When he came into UP’s basketball program, he was obliged to serve his residency period, and after sitting out a full season, he then made the roster of the Diliman-based squad. However, he spent most of his rookie season at the bench but that did not hurt his confidence and sense of belongingness to the team.
“On my first win against UE two years ago, I actually didn’t get the chance to see the floor. But, winning is fun for everybody, whether you’re on the bench or you’re playing,” the Filipino-Canadian player said. His second career win is the one that merited a bonfire recently.
During the hype of the recent win, Gallarza described the feeling to be “surreal.” It even had him charge his phone three times because his social media accounts were in frenzy.
There was one thing that really made its mark on his bucket list: be a trending topic worldwide.
However, the player said he also felt insulted and disrespected because it took a promise of a bonfire and all that media hype to bring out the fans.
“It’s just that we’ve been suffering this the whole time but the only time that you’ll come into a game is that when we face another winless team,” he remarked. “It was confusing to me that when you say you’re maroon-blooded, at least be about it. I know it’s hard to cheer for us. But at the same time, you’re gonna fit into the hype yourself only because it’s two winless teams battling it out.”
On another note, Gallarza feels positive and hopeful for a better standing of the team next year, though by then he has graduated and probably will not be on the team anymore.
“Being the hosts (of UAAP Season 78), I hope they can do it next year. I may not be around. It’s just about the recruitment. I heard that Boss Dan (Palami) has a three-year plan that will help the team that we have right now,” Gallarza said.
With this man on the team, Maroons proved that honor and excellence should not be confined to just one field at a time. Surely, the team will earn more supporters as Gallarza proved to be a model scholar that UP students can look up to.