After the final buzzer sounded, marking the end of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons’ inspiring run, Bo Perasol gathered his team on the sidelines.
Not one from the at least 15,000 Iskos and Iskas had left, with all chanting “UP Fight” in unison.
And Perasol made sure that the Fighting Maroons would remember this feeling.
He made sure that they soaked in this moment, because it was a moment 32 years in the making.
“We will be back next season, we will be back next season!” declared Perasol, as the Fighting Maroons formed a circle around him.
Just three years ago, only a handful of people would watch UP play. But the crowd grew with every game, every season. And it culminated in this season’s playoffs, as tens of thousands of the UP faithful flocked to the stadiums to cheer on their team.
It is the result of their hard work.
“For all those guys who are there, I don’t want you to look down. I want you to be proud, because I want you to be proud of what you did,” added a proud Perasol.
“They are proud of you!”
However, the Fighting Maroons could not help but weep. They had been just one step away from sending Paul Desiderio, Diego Dario, Gelo Vito, Jarell Lim, and JJ Espanola home with gold.
But Perasol told his wards to keep their heads up and use this as motivation for next season.
“You have to light the fire! The finals is done, the finals is done! You need to be proud that we made it to the Finals… Nobody expected us to be here!” he said.
“You achieved so much, you sacrificed so much! That’s why they are here!
“So do not look down. We will be better! Okay? You have to be proud for them! You have to make it and show it in your faces!” he added.
And as the crowd remained with them even after the final buzzer had sounded, Perasol told his players to make sure to pay tribute to them.
“Later on, we need to go down over there and wait for them. JJ, Paul, Diego, Gelo, and Jarrell, let’s be in there, guys,” he said while pointing to the crowd.
For the seniors, he had one last thing to say.
“You ended in the championship. Nobody expected us to be here. I’m so proud of you. I’m proud of you, I’m proud of you guys!”