UAAP: Paul Desiderio, the captain who brought UP back to the Final Four

Danine Cruz on Nov 14, 2018 09:39 PM
Desiderio, the captain who brought UP back to Final Four
From being part of UP as early as the winless days of Season 76, Desiderio is now the captain of the third-seeded team in UAAP Season 80.

In University of the Philippines' historic Final Four-clinching victory, Paul Desiderio was lit.

Funny to think that months before UAAP Season 81, UP almost didn't have this man.

After Desiderio's spectacular Season 80 filled with buzzer-beaters and iconic mantras, the temptation of foregoing his fifth year and immediately entering the professional ranks was strong.

But then, he sacrificed his good numbers and decided to go for his one last #UPFight.

"Nag-sacrifice ako noon sa last year ko. Yun nga pinagisipan ko kung babalik ako o hinde. My personal goal, sinakripisyo ko para sa team," he said referring to his lifelong PBA dream.

"Pero worth it naman. Kaya sobrang saya," Desiderio said moments after their 97-81 victory over De La Salle University.

The road to Final Four of UP was not a smooth ride. Their first round campaign which ended at a 3-4 slate casted doubts on their chances.

"Mayroong doubts din noon, pero yun nga, dapat labanan namin ngayon," said the Cebuano standout.

But as the season progressed, the Fighting Maroons peaked.

It was a spectacular sight for Desiderio. They were crushing a Final Four contender. Their supporters were abounding. The chants were deafening.

During the dying moments of the match, Desiderio can't help but rush to his mentor Coach Bo Perasol. With a huge smile on his face, he hugged Perasol so tightly.

"Coach Bo parang tatay ko yan. May times nga na nagaaway kami, di naman nag aaway pero di kami nagkakaintindihan tapos may times na kalagitnaan ng season lagi kami nagusap anong gagawin namin so yun, naging successful yung plano namin," he said.

From being part of the team as early as the winless days of Season 76, Desiderio is now the captain of the third-seeded team in Season 81.

"Syempre napakasarap na start ako ng 0-14, tapos ngayon Final Four may chance pa mag Finals. May chance pang mag champion kung ganun, so buhay pa kami. Buhay pa ang UP," he said.

Truly, Desiderio's decision to stay for UP is worth it.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz

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