UAAP: What it feels like to be with 21,000 UP-Adamson fans in the Araneta Coliseum
Danine Cruz on Nov 29, 2018 02:14 PM
The amazing ball game was just fitting for the amazing crowd that showed up.
After the University of the Philippines forced a do-or-die game versus Adamson University last Saturday, Paul Desiderio expressed how much he loved the support of the UP community present at the Mall of Asia Arena. To him, the cheers and the chants pumped him up for every play.
When asked if Saturday's crowd was the biggest crowd he has ever played in front of, he had this to say.
"Hindi pa ito, mayroon pa sa Wednesday," said the team captain.
With his 'Atin 'To' promise from last season came another prophecy fulfilled from Desiderio.
Come Wednesday, this time in the Araneta Coliseum, nearly 21,000 fans clad either in blue or maroon filled the coliseum to the brim.
The blue side came earlier than the maroon side. At least 45 minutes before the tipoff, a jam-packed Adamson side was already belting out their signature cheers while waving their blue and white balloons.
It was a powerful show of force from the Adamson community, which exhausted all efforts to show up for the Soaring Falcons. Classes were suspended and bus services were provided. The Adamson supporters consisted mostly of current students and youthful fans.
Bright Akhuetie shared hearing those cheers while he was still in the locker room preparing for the match.
"When I was in the dugout I actually asked someone if there was a game going on. Seriously, I asked, 'Who's playing out there? Are we playing after that game?' and they were like 'No, nobody's playing,' then I said 'Why are they shouting?," said the Fighting Maroon in between laughs.
As the tip-off neared, the UP community composed of students, middle-aged alumni, and even senior citizens caught up and started filling their side of the coliseum. Team captain Paul Desiderio made a quick eye test of their crowd and deduced a funny observation which head coach Bo Perasol revealed after the game.
"Sabi ni Paul pagbalik niya, sabi niya 'Coach talo tayo sa crowd.' Sabi ko, 'Bakit?' Sabi niya, 'Matatanda 'yung crowd natin, mga bata 'yung Adamson. Napaka-energetic, sigaw ng sigaw.' 'Eh 'yung atin?' 'Nakatunganga doon, matatanda.' Sabi ko, 'Mga alumni natin 'yan!," said Perasol beside a laughing Desiderio.
"[Adamson] got kids and they hyped! They were super hyped but wow," Akhuetie added.
When the game started, it was pandemonium. All game long, both jam-packed sides were screaming out loud with their cheers. There was rarely a moment that neither "UP Fight" nor "Unawakanahimo" was heard. One can literally feel the magnitude of every shot courtesy of the fans' jumping in the stands.
Desiderio's observation that Adamson's crowd was more youthful can be validated by the fun gimmicks the blue-and-white supporters did during timeouts.
There were times that Adamson supporters raised flashlights from their smart phones and there were also times that they would do waves around their half of the venue.
The Maroons on the other hand just did the classic variations of their cheers -- the UP Fight callbacks and the U-nibersidad verse complete with actions.
The usual trash talk between both sides was also present. The boos, the lutos, the iyakins were all there.
The mood of the crowd was telling. Something spectacular was really about to happen.
Jun Manzo's spin move and scoop shot in regulation happened.
Jerom Lastimosa's game-tying triple to force an overtime happened.
Then the crazy back-and-forth extra five minutes happened.
Then Desiderio's jumper that provided to be marginal basket happened.
The final buzzer sounded and it signalled the end of the Finals drought for the Maroons.
After 32 years, UP is back in the biggest stage of the UAAP.
It was UP's turn to raise their flashlights.
"I saw a lot of maroon. All I saw was flashlights. Everywhere. I was like, 'Oh my God, these people, they came out ready," Akhuetie shared.
The supporters who Desiderio referred to as young once screamed and jumped their hearts out.
"Eh ngayon naman, tumayo din kahit matanda. Umingay na rin, namaos na rin ang mga alumni namin from the ages," Perasol narrated.
Tears of joy and screams of relief were heard from the maroon side while sighs of frustration and exasperation creeped through the blue side.
But everyone still went home with a warm heart and a memory of their school cheer sung by the whole coliseum.
As per UAAP tradition, the UP Pep Squad Drummers played the A-D-A-M-S-O-N cheer as the whole 360-degrees of the venue joined screaming every letter and syllabication of the name of the school that just gave them the toughest yet sweetest game.
The Adamson Drummers paid the favor back and hit the U-nibersidad cheer as everyone regardless of color celebrated the victory of a history-seeking team.
It was sportsmanship at its finest.
After the high of that instant classic match, one thing is for sure -- UP and Adamson just gave the fans the most complete UAAP basketball experience.
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