IíM THE CAPTAIN NOW: Desiderio already filling void left by Manuel for UP

Desiderio already filling void left by Manuel for UP
HEIR APPARENT. Paul Desiderio is already doing work as UP's new leader.

Paul Desiderio and CafeFrance’s campaign in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup has come to an end.

And while the Bakers fell way short in their championship quest, Desiderio, personally, has done nothing but mark up his stock with an impressive showing all season long.

In averaging 15 points in 44.4 percent shooting, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, the 22-year-old emerged as an MVP contender in his second stint in the PBA D-League.

Of course, that’s only a good sign for the University of the Philippines side he will now be returning to. “Wala ring pahinga kasi mag training na rin sa UP. Focus naman ako sa UP,” he said.

There, he will stand at the forefront of the Fighting Maroons’ bid for a continued return to relevance in the UAAP. “Ginagampanan ko na rin talaga sa UP yung role ko as leader. Palagi na rin kasi akong tinatawagan ni coach Bo (Perasol) tungkol sa lahat ng bagay sa team,” he shared.

The even better sign for State U is that even during the D-League, Desiderio had already been owning up to being their main man. As rookie Juan Gomez de Liano shared, “Paul has been taking over the leadership. Kahit nga he’s dominating the D-League, tinutulungan pa rin niya ako in everything.”

With the graduation of Jett Manuel, the biggest question mark for UP was who was going to take the lead.

Way before the UAAP season begins, the Cebuano has apparently answered with his name. “Malaking tulong na rin kasi sa akin yung kumpyansang binigay sa akin ni coach Egay (Macaraya). Ginawa niya akong captain ball kahit bago lang ako sa CafeFrance,” he said.

He also added, “Kaya unti-unti ko ring natututunan yung role as leader.”

For his part, Manuel, the most recent captain, remains confident that he left the Maroons in the more than capable hands of Desiderio. “In terms of leading the team, Paul’s the right guy. No doubt, he’s the right fit there,” he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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