And so another University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season passed by with the UP men’s basketball team not being part of the Final Four cast anew.
That makes it two decades since the University of the Philippines last made it to the semifinals of the marquee UAAP tournament; quite a long drought indeed.
But much like the end of last year, I am not going to be down on our beloved Fighting Maroons, seeing how they showed further improvement and left us supporters much to cheer about and have something to look forward to.
Season 80 had the Maroons just narrowly missing the semifinals, finishing at fifth place with a record of 6-8.
While the much-sought-for Final Four appearance continued to be elusive this year, still their ascent of late in the UAAP was sustained.
From the winless years of 2012 and 2013, UP has steadily climbed, winning, one, three and five in the years that followed.
In 2017, it was six, which could have easily been higher had the breaks gone the team’s way in some close games.
And the great thing about it all, support from the UP community was ever present throughout the Maroons’ campaign, a very much welcome sight considering there was a time in the past when the players were playing in front of near empty venues.
This year you can see that the community was into it, not because it was forced to do so but more because it saw that change is happening and the “fight” is being exemplified on the floor.
Of course, more work is definitely needed to finally go over the hump, but if the recent developments are any indication, I am going out on a limb and say we are almost there.
Next year the team’s core led by Paul Desiderio, Jun Manzo, Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano and Noah Webb will be back, and expected to be joined by transferee Bright Akhuetie, it is something that I am really high on and I would not be surprised if UP finally breaks through into the top four.
Until then, congratulations are due to Coach Bo Perasol and his staff for steering the team to another respectable campaign. May the solid bid the team had in Season 80 continue to inspire them to better themselves and make the institution we all love proud.
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.