UAAP: The Desiderios knew this wasn't going to be Paul's last game

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 24, 2018 08:05 PM
The Desiderios knew this wasn't going to be Paul's last game
Paul Desiderio's will to win has been at its maximum in the last two games

Paul Desiderio could have played his last game for the University of the Philippines on Saturday at the MOA Arena.

The key words there are "could have."

Thanks to Bright Akhuetie’s shot, Juan Gomez de Liano’s pass, and Desiderio’s screen, the Maroons live to fight another day in the UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

And apparently, Desiderio’s own family knew this would be happening – even if he himself wasn’t so sure. “Kagabi, iniisip ko bago mag-dinner family namin na baka ito na last game ko sa UAAP. Pero sila, nakikita ko na positive lang,” he shared after he and his teammates edged out Adamson University to force a winner-take-all between the two teams.

He then continued, “Sabi nila sa akin, ‘Hindi pa. Meron pang Wednesday.’ Dun ako kumukuha ng lakas na hindi ako maggi-give up.”

Indeed, State U’s skipper gave it his all and totaled 19 points, eight rebounds, and four assists to lead his squad to its first playoff win since 1997.

Along with that, Desiderio and his team now head into a rematch with the same Soaring Falcons, this time for a Finals berth, on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

This isn’t the first time that the graduating swingman has come through when it mattered most.

In UP’s last game, he had 10 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals all while putting himself all over the floor. “Alam mong gusto niyang manalo, nasa mata niya, nakikita mo yun. Hindi siya nandadaya sa depensa kahit na tumutodo sa opensa,” head coach Bo Perasol said, nothing but appreciative of his main man.

That was a big help in their victory versus De La Salle University – a victory that put an end to their 21-year playoff drought.

Of course, these being the biggest games in recent history for the Fighting Maroons is more than enough reason for Desiderio to give his all. “There’s so much motivation in him, wala na nga ako dun e. Siyempre, gusto niyang i-end yung playing career niya on a winning note,” coach Bo shared.

He then continued, “But more than anything else, I think, it is just when he sees the crowd, he just wants to give back.”

Indeed, alongside his family, the Cebu native said he gives it all and plans to continue giving his all for all of Diliman. As he put it, “Nasa isip ko, para sa UP community ‘to. Bibigyan ko sila nang magandang exit na makapasok ng Finals o one game para makapag-Finals.”

He then continued, “Naalala ko, nung rookie year ko, iilan lang nanonood ng game. Ngayon, punong-puno ‘to kaya para sa UP community ‘to. Sila ang dahilan kaya lumalaban kami.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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