Five UP Fighting Maroons heard their names called in the 2023 PBA Draft last Sunday — the most times for State U in recent history.
Zavier Lucero led the list as the fifth overall pick for NorthPort, while Henry Galinato and Ricci Rivero went in the second round to Rain or Shine and Phoenix Super LPG, respectively. Sixth round selections Joe Gomez de Liaño and J-Boy Gob round out the five from Diliman.
UP’s next biggest class came exactly a decade ago when Tata Marata, Mike Silungan, Alvin Padilla, and Mark Lopez were drafted. Most definitely, this is the most number of Fighting Maroon draftees under Bo Perasol, who came home to his alma mater in 2016.
“This is something to celebrate for the entire UP community because Fighting Maroons weren’t always considered prospects sa pros. Kung meron man tayo, manaka-naka lang,” said Perasol, the former coach and program director who now serves as director of the Office for Athletics and Sports Development.
“But eto ngayon, nakikita nating not only do we have a winning culture already, nakakapag-produce na rin tayo ng talent na gusto ng mga team sa pros.”
Lucero and Rivero were key cogs in State U’s first championship in 36 years back in UAAP Season 84, while Galinato made the most of his first and only year in maroon-and-green in Season 85.
UP’s current roster also features pro-ready prospects in graduating guards CJ Cansino and JD Cagulangan. That’s not even including Carl Tamayo who has opted to see action for the Ryukyu Golden Kings in the Japan B.League.
“What we’re seeing now is players want to play for UP because nabago na natin yung kultura e. We’re Fighting Maroons, yes, but at the same time, tayo na rin yung matagal na nating gustong maging: ‘Winning Maroons,’” said Perasol.
Article from Normie Riego