UP captain Desiderio: ‘Wala na kaming rason para ‘di manalo’

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 03, 2017 08:25 PM
UP captain Desiderio: ‘Wala na kaming rason para ‘di manalo’
FIGHTING WORDS. UP is nothing but confident it can turn its fight into wins.

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 5-9, tied for fifth and sixth

YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Diego Dario, Paul Desiderio, Javi Gomez de Liano, Noah Webb

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Juan Gomez de Liano, Jun Manzo, Ibrahim Quattara

GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Jett Manuel, Dave Moralde

The University of the Philippines isn’t being pegged for the Final Four – not just yet, at least – and there are many reasons why.

Jett Manuel, who, along with Paul Desiderio, is its brightest star in years, is now gone.

Bright Akhuetie, the Nigerian powerhouse who transferred from University of Perpetual Help to Diliman, is still undergoing his one-year residency.

And its promising core is stocked full of rookies and sophomores in Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Jun Manzo, and Noah Webb.

However, the Fighting Maroons themselves are pegging themselves for the Final Four. “Ngayon, wala na kaming rason para ‘di manalo,” team captain Desiderio said.

Desiderio then went on to mention how they, like the top teams in the league, trained in the US for the first time in the preseason. “Yung ibang school, pumupuntang Las Vegas. Yung UP, pumunta na rin e. Kung sa training lang, medyo hindi na rin kami huli,” he said.

He then continued, repeating for more emphasis, “Wala na talaga kaming rason para ‘di pa manalo.”

Incoming fourth-year guard Diego Dario could only agree. “As a team, we had a lot of time to prepare. I think after the (last) season, we only had a two week break then we started training na tapos I think we joined a total of six leagues,” he said.

Along with having had overseas training and offseason action, State U also boasts one of the most promising rookie classes in the UAAP. “I think it won’t be a problem that Jett and the others left na. We expected that to happen and I think coach Bo did a great job of looking ahead,” Dario said.

He then continued, “He got guys who can contribute right away. It won’t be a problem for us.”

In UAAP Juniors MVP Gomez de Liano, Cebuano pointman Manzo, and Malinese big man Ibrahim Quattara, they have three first-year players who can feasibly make an immediate impact.

And so, while everybody else isn’t ready for them as contenders, the Fighting Maroons are nothing but confident they will be putting an end to their almost two decade-long playoff absence this season. “Malaki ang kumpyansa naming mag-Final Four kasi yung confidence namin, lalo na nung mga bata, iba talaga e. Pagbalik ng Las Vegas, nakita ko iba na yung confidence,” Desiderio shared.

He then continued, “Sabi ko, ito na nga ata yung tsansa namin. Ang kulang na lang naman talaga sa amin, yung confidence e.”

With confidence as high as it has been in more than a decade, UP is promising that it will no longer let down its faithful. “Gusto naming mabigyan ng saya yung alumni namin kasi sobrang grabe na yung support na binibigay nila. Gusto naming suklian yun,” the team captain said.

He then continued, “Ako, personally, bibigyan ko sila ng panalo.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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