The stakes just got higher for Paul Desiderio.
A day after lifting the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons to the school’s first-ever Finals appearance in 32 years, the super senior paid a visit to Bounty Agro Venture’s office in Pasig City.
And it was because the 21 year old-native of Liloan, Cebu believes in luck.
“Naniniwala ako sa suwerte. Bago nag-semis, pumunta ako kay Boss Ronald [Mascariñas] at nag-usap kami. Yun, nanalo kami, kaya pumunta ulit ako dito para ulitin yung suwerte at makuha namin yung championship,” shared Desiderio.
Desiderio identifies with Mascariñas.
At a young age, Desiderio made the move to Manila to try and carve his own niche in collegiate basketball. It was the same for Mascariñas, who moved from Butuan to Laguna to study in University of the Philippines-Los Banos.
“Si boss Ronald galing din sa baba. Kumbaga, iniinsipire niya ako na, kung ano gagawin, huwag kang sumuko kahit anong mangyari,” Desiderio admitted.
But Mascariñas, who supported the Fighting Maroons back in 2016, had an added surprise for Desiderio.
“Sa tuwa ko at in behalf of the UP community, maluwag sa loob ko na, ‘Paul, ibigay mo sa UP community yung championship, you will have a Chooks-to-Go store for life.’ Hanggang mag-retire siya, may hanap-buhay siya,” the sports patron told Desiderio.
And it’s because Mascariñas has seen first hand the struggles and hardships Desiderio had to go through to reach this point.
“We have been supporting the entire team back in 2016. But nung na-involve na kami sa Gilas, hindi naman unlimited yung resources ng company so we had to prioritize. There were a lot of sponsors who came in kaya umalis na kami sa UP and focused our full support sa national team,” shared Mascariñas.
“But kami naman, nakita namin yung pangarap ni Paul sa basketball. Among the players, nakita namin na siya yung mas nangangailangan. Kaya kahit wala na yung support namin sa team, we continued supporting Paul,” he added.
“Nakita niyo naman sa game, hindi siya nag-give up. Lumaban siya para sa UP.”
With this, Desiderio will have an added motivation to win it all for the UP community.