UP's Slow Rise to the Top
As the UP Men's Basketball Team return to the UAAP for Season 81, we look back at the team's performance for the past five seasons. By Selina Jo Paredes
Slowly but surely
For the longest time, most teams would discern that going up against the Fighting Maroons would be a walk in the park. Season after season, UP showed little to no signs of improvement as they were always at the bottom of the standings and went as low as having winless seasons.
Captain Mikee Reyes
Win – loss 1–13
Season 77 saw UP only winning one game with a win-loss record of 1-13 after defeating the Adamson (AdU) Soaring Falcons that ended their losing streak and was celebrated with the traditional bonfire, which signifies the end of a long journey towards a championship.
Captain JR Gallarza
Win – loss 3–11
The Maroons had a surprising start in Season 78. Under the leadership of skipper JR Gallarza, State U started 2-0 after winning their season opener against University of the East (UE) and a stunning upset against the DLSU Green Archers.
However, the Diliman team could not sustain the streak for the rest of the season finding themselves in seventh place with a 3-11 win-loss record.
Things started looking up as bonfires proved to be no more with Coach Bo Perasol, having resigned from his post as the Blue Eagles head coach for three years, back in his alma mater to mentor the Fighting Maroons for Season 79 with the goal of turning things around for UP.
Under a new system, Perasol promised a more skilled and aggressive UP with a changed mindset, but not at an easy cost, as he reminded everyone that it was going to take a while to change the team’s state of mind after having come from dismal seasons.
Captain Jett Manuel
Win – loss 5–9
Led by Jett Manuel, UP’s campaign started slow, winning only one game in the first round against UE. Manuel attributed to the team’s lackluster game finishes despite having that killer instinct at crunch time.
UP eventually scored wins against teams such as the Blue Eagles during the second round ending their 14-game losing streak against them, the Soaring Falcons, and the NU Bulldogs all of which prompted the Maroons in the Final Four conversation alongside an ecstatic UP crowd.
We've been telling people that it's a process, but we're gonna win. It's a process, we're gonna win, this is the first season that it actually came to life.
They finished with a 5-9 win-loss record and Jett Manuel nabbed Player of the Week honors, both the first for UP since 2005 while Paul Desiderio made the mythical five team, the first in a decade for UP.
Captain Paul Desiderio
Win – loss 6–8
Desiderio-led UP capped off their Season 80 campaign just one spot shy of making it to the final four with a 6-8 record at fifth place. After ending FEU’s 12 game winning streak against the Maroons that dated back to Season 74 of the UAAP, as well as, pulling an upset over defending champions DLSU, the Maroons still failed to push for a final four slot.
Juan Gomez De Liano served as a bright spot for State U, establishing himself as a future elite playmaker and was eventually crowned Rookie of the Year.
The only way is UP
With notable players joining State U, this could be a sign of greater things to come for the Fighting Maroons.
This Season 81, Desiderio will play his final season for the Maroon and White alongside young gunners Jun Manzo, the Gomez De Liano brothers, and rookie Will Gozum. Transferees Bright Akhuetie and Jaydee Tungcab will also see action for the first time with the Maroons.
With this promising and championship caliber lineup, UP aims to finally reach the Final Four and bring back glory to State U by ending the Final Four and UAAP title drought of more than three decades.
All photographs Tinig ng Plaridel, except Gozum, Akhuetie, and Tungcab: Daytime View
Design and Development by Gene Paolo Gumagay