UP wants "change of culture" in UAAP Season 78

Mark Escarlote on Sep 02, 2015 09:31 PM
UP wants
Lagi naming sinasabi sa kanila na they are winners. Kung ano man ang mga before na naging experience nila sa UP tapos na yun --- UP coach Rensy Bajar

The University of the Philippines is looking forward to a brighter campaign this UAAP Season.

After years of getting buried down the cellar with mediocre performances, the Fighting Maroons are brimming with confidence coming from a new coaching staff, better management and all-out support from sponsors.

The UP basketball team wants to bring the pride of the Diliman-based school back and change the mindset of just accepting defeat.

"We wanted to change the culture sa amin na ang UP this time hindi na basta-basta and lalaban," said returning shooter Jett Manuel.

The Fighting Maroons will be handled by Rensy Bajar with a solid staff composed of American Joe Ward, Allan Gregorio, ex-PBA player Poch Juinio and former UP cager Mo Gingerich.

Last year, UP ended their 27-game losing streak that started in 2012 with a win against Adamson at the end of the first round celebrated by a bonfire only to see another string of defeats as the Maroons finished Season 77 with a 1-13 record.

But Bajar believes that this year there will be a change in their fortune even if they have to start from scratch.

"Lagi naming sinasabi sa kanila na they are winners. Kung ano man ang mga before na naging experience nila sa UP tapos na yun. We are starting all over again," he said.

The Maroons lost Mikee Reyes and Kyles Lao from last year’s lineup but will see the return of Manuel, who last played with UP two years ago, JR Gallarza, Mark Juruena, Diego Dario and Paul Desiderio.

UP also beefed up their front court with the addition of French-African Chiek Kone and added notable rookies Noah Webb, Jose Piero Longa, Felixberto Jaboneta and Jerson Prado with veterans Henry Asilum, Agustini Amar, Andrew Harris, Dave Moralde, Jarrel Lim and Gelo Vito.

"This time teamwork talaga kami. Yung teamwork namin not only on offense but also on defense," Bajar said of the character of this year’s Maroons.

As part of their preparation for the coming season, which UP is the host-school and will open on Saturday, September 5, the Maroons joined the amateur grassroots league FilSports Basketball Association where they won the crown. They also had a short stint in a pocket tournament in Taiwan.

"We praised God na nagkaroon kami ng opportunity na magkapaglaro sa Taiwan na nagbigay sa amin ng (pagkakataon to see) how basketball is played as a team talaga. So ‘yun ang pinaka-wakeup call sa amin na two weeks ago nakita namin doon (sa Taiwan) kung paano kami na-develop at nag-bond as a team," Bajar added.

The team also received a shot in the arm with Robinson’s Corporation as corporate sponsor and a more efficient management under team manager Dan Palami.

"I think with the new coaching staff coming in and with the new management coming in, there’s a visible program in place. People can see naman," said Manuel. "Us players, can feel the difference especially me, matanda na ako e, so I can feel the changes that are happening this time. That’s exciting for us this year."

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