UAAP: Perasol: 'We're going to the Finals with the intention of winning'
Danine Cruz on Nov 30, 2018 10:23 AM
Final Four is not the peak, the championship is
When the University of the Philippines qualified for the Final Four in the UAAP Season 81 for the first time since 1997, the celebration felt like they had already reached the pinnacle of their season. They earned the right to go up against the second-seeded team Adamson University with the heavy task to overcome a twice-to-beat disadvantage.
Adamson was having their most promising year in the three-year Franz Pumaren era after finishing the eliminations in the top two for the first time. Coming in to the semifinals, UP had a 0-2 record against Adamson in the eliminations, where in both games, clutch shot maker Sean Manganti provided the heartbreakers.
The odds were already stacked against the Fighting Maroons. Even with star players in Paul Desiderio, Bright Akhuetie, and Juan Gomez de Liano, UP was still in the familiar underdog position against Adamson.
But they pressed on and shook off the idea that the Final Four is the pinnacle of Season 81.
"Our mindset is we're here already, why not play the best that we can, why not fight for it?," shared coach Bo Perasol.
Like a team on a mission, the Fighting Maroons grinded out two straight thrilling victories in a pair of instant classic matches to boot out the once mighty Falcons and book a ticket to the Finals series. The last time they afforded that ticket was way back 1986.
They have now realized that no, the Final Four is not the peak. The championship is.
Perasol admitted that it was just something that they learned in the process. Going in to the Finals this specific season was not part of the concrete and practical plan.
"I think [being in the Finals], it's an overachievement. It's something that we haven't planned. It's something that we put as an ideal goal," said Perasol.
"Para bang naisip namin na 'Hey go in to the Final Four, this is the stage, learn how it works here, then next year, probably we'll have the chance again and we'll go to the Finals,'" he insisted.
Apparently, in the beginning of Season 81, UP envisioned themselves as definitely a Final Four squad but not necessarily a Finals team. But look at them now, they surprised even themselves.
"We're slowly learning about ourselves. Parang if you truly believe with what you can do, parang you'll be truly amazed at how better you are than what you see yourself as it is. You are better than how you see yourself," Perasol reiterated.
Season 81 has been a year of rewriting history for UP -- first Final Four since 1997, first Finals since 1986, and first MVP in Akhuetie since 1969. It seems like they have already reached their quota, but Perasol made it clear that they are not done yet.
"Make no mistake about it, we're going for it," he said.
Just like the position they have been in for so long, UP will be entering the Finals on Saturday as the overwhelming underdogs against the defending champions Ateneo de Manila University.
Similar to their initial record versus Adamson, UP is 0-2 again this season versus Ateneo. Their games in the past elimination rounds have been lopsided.
But despite of that fact, UP insists that they are not just happy to be in the Finals, they are there to take it all.
"Wala sa isip namin yung malakas sila, mahina kami, na we're happy where we are. No. We'll be there to compete, we are going to be there to win it. I don't know what the results would be but we will be there with the intention of winning," said Perasol.
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