There is something bugging the UP courtside hopefuls this coming season. After a long while, Diliman is finally home to the most intriguing question in the UAAP basketball offseason: What is next for the UP Fighting Maroons? After a stellar cinderella run, we now search for answers.
Aside from that elusive “uno” grade, students from the University of the Philippines are craving for a basketball team they can outright be proud of. Although there were bright spots from the rosters in previous seasons— notable are the stints of Marvin Cruz and Jett Manuel— no one gave a legitimate Maroon chance to go all the way in the UAAP. Coach after coach, player after player, the life of student supporters and athletes of the UP Fighting Maroons themselves was filled with frustrations. It was hard to shout “UP Fight!” before. But even if the team was considered cellar-dwellers rather than perennial contenders, the support continued to live on.
Then, UAAP Season 81 happened. After a long wait, the Iskos and Iskas finally got to see an asterisk beside UP’s name when the standings were flashed on the jumbotron. It was surreal. Finally, UP is in the Final Four! Emotions were raw inside the Mall of Asia Arena one afternoon when the buzzer finally sounded. The Maroons forged a convincing win against former champions, De La Salle Green Archers. Call it satisfying—UP supporters found it liberating. The Men’s Basketball Team got rid of the shackles of futility and they are not just fighting anymore… They are now winning.
(to be continued…)