UAAP: The Fighting Maroons are now the 'Winning Maroons'

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 14, 2018 09:12 PM
UAAP: The Fighting Maroons are now the 'Winning Maroons'
UP has ended a 21-year playoff drought via a victory versus La Salle

Slowly but surely, the University of the Philippines has made it all the way back inside the playoff picture.

A 5-9 record and a sixth-place finish in 2016 became a 6-8 record and a fifth-place finish in 2017.

Now in 2018, the Fighting Maroons then took another step forward by ending the elimination round as the third-seed at 8-6.

Of course, the road from its last playoff berth back in 1997 has been long and winding for State U.

That was no more evident than during the so-called “dark days” from 2007 to 2015 when they only had 13 wins to show through nine seasons – including three winless seasons and two one-win seasons.

From there, UP vowed to climb the standings once more.

While 2016 and 2017 were steps forward, however, there was still a hump to be gotten over – a 21-year playoff drought.

“Hindi (na) lang enough yung fighting, we have to win,” head coach Bo Perasol said before the beginning of Season 81. “Kailangan, iniintindi namin na hindi pwedeng Fighting Maroons kami – we have to be the ‘Winning Maroons.’”

And in 2018, all throughout Season 81, the Maroons have only answered their coach’s call. “The kind of mindset that we want to have is wala nang pag-aalangan. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win, but the though there is we can win,” coach Bo said.

He then continued, “Before, the idea is, malakas ang kalaban, ano kaya ang mangyayari? Ngayon, it doesn’t matter. We believe we can win.”

With that full faith in itself, State U is through to the Final Four – and once more, it has to be emphasized that this is their first in more than two decades. Asked if they have completed their transformation from Fighting Maroons to “Winning Maroons,” he answered, “Yes, I can say we’ve reached that.”

And so, UP can celebrate its long-awaited and much-wanted playoff berth.

And nobody can take that away from them. “When I looked at the big scoreboard while we were singing (UP Naming Mahal), nakita ko may asterisk kami. Dun na ako naiyak,” coach Bo, the man who guided them back to contention, said.

He then continued, “The asterisk says it all.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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