The long-suffering faithful from Diliman know a thing or two about disappointment.
The University of the Philippines men’s basketball team has never failed to give its community something to hope for, but it also has always failed to come through – 2005 being the last year they were close to a .500 record.
Just a year ago, the Fighting Maroons were off to a promising 2-0 start before spiraling downward with a 1-11 finish.
Last Saturday, State U was once again a victim to the onslaught of still perfect De La Salle University. Defeated by a score of 72-78, they dropped to a 3-7 standing.
And yet, captain Jett Manuel saw nothing but promise from the team even with the loss. As he put it, “Personally, I think hindi pa yun yung A-game namin. We were there and I feel that we could have won the game.”
Indeed, UP were giving the Green Archers a good fight and were still in the game inside the last two minutes before the latter’s depth won out in the end. “We’re always happy with the effort, but I’m not happy that we lost,” Manuel expressed.
Even though they remain tied for sixth-place in an eight-team tournament, the graduating guard said that the mere fact that they were right there competing with a team marching towards historic levels of dominance signifies that they are no longer the disappointing Maroons.
Asked if their strong showings are for real, Manuel answered, full of confidence, “This is for real. I believe our team is better and we are showing it.”
He then continued, “The wins that we are getting this year are much better compared to last season.”
Last season, State U’s three wins came at the expense of the other teams in the bottom half of the standings. This season, they have scored against University of the East, Ateneo de Manila University, and Adamson University.
Trying to explain their improvement, the team captain pointed to the stability brought by first-year head coach Bo Perasol. “I think that the team has bought in to the system. That’s why I think we’re a lot better than what we showed in the first round,” he said.
And now, Manuel is adamant that this is only the beginning for UP. “We just have to stay grounded because I believe we can achieve a lot more,” he said.
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