UAAP Finals: UP got over the hump; now, it gets a boost from Rivero, Paras

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 05, 2018 10:31 PM
UP got over the hump; now, it gets Rivero, Paras
Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras will try to fill the big, big void left behind by Paul Desiderio (FILE PHOTO)

After going 13-113 from 2007 to 2015, the University of the Philippines has gone 19-23 from 2016 to 2018.

More than that, the Fighting Maroons have just wrapped up a breakthrough season that saw them end their 21-year playoff drought and their 32-year Finals absence.

Of course, in the end, State U succumbed to now back-to-back champion Ateneo de Manila University.

With that, their best showing since 1986 is a runner-up finish.

Also with that, the collegiate careers of Diego Dario, JJ Espanola, Jarrell Lim, Gelo Vito, and team captain Paul Desiderio have come to a close.

Even so, UP remains a contender for the foreseeable future with Season MVP Bright Akhuetie and Mythical selection Juan Gomez de Liano still there alongside the likes of Javi Gomez de Liano, Will Gozum, and Jun Manzo.

More than that, they will also be welcoming with open arms a pair of Gilas cadets in Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras.

“Napakalaking pressure sa kanila, pero kaya naman nila Kobe, Ricci, yung mga papalit sa amin,” team captain Paul Desiderio said in his last game in maroon and white on Wednesday. “Tingin ko, kaya na mag-champion next year.”

Rivero transferred to Diliman last May. A year ago, he made the Mythical Team as a rising star for De La Salle University.

Meanwhile, Paras committed to the Fighting Maroons last July. This, after stints with Creighton and Cal State Northridge in the US NCAA.

With them in tow, it’s not a farfetched idea to think that State U will be back in the Finals next year.

Still, that’s easier said than done. “They need to understand the goal of the team. It’s not about them, it’s about what you can help to accomplish that goal,” head coach Bo Perasol said.

He then continued, “It’s not about Ricci, Kobe, or Juan, or Bright, it’s about the team.”

Still, just as UP gets stronger, so will now two-time defending champion Ateneo which will remain intact with Thirdy Ravena, Matt Nieto, and Ange Kouame showing the way.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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