The last time the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons hoisted the UAAP Men’s Basketball Crown was back in 1986.
Led by a fantastic four composed of Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, and Joey Guanio, the Fighting Maroons denied the University of the East Red Warriors of a rare “three-peat”, sweeping them in two games – capped by a masterful 98-89 win on October 27, 1986.
It was the last time State U celebrated a men’s basketball championship. What followed were struggles and hardships.
UP last cracked the Final Four back in the 60th season of the UAAP. Then came a string a beatdowns – including a 27-game losing streak that spanned two seasons.
During that time, the UP faithful had been searching for the next Benjie Paras, the student-athlete that would lead them to the Promised Land.
Wednesday morning, Benjie’s son Kobe announced that he will be committing to UP. Come Season 82, the now-second generation Isko will join a stacked line-up that will include Ricci Rivero, Juan Gomez de Liano, Will Gozum, Bright Akhuetie, and a handful of other blue chip transferees and recruits.
The pressure will be on for them to continue the upward trajectory of the Fighting Maroons that started back in 2016.
But for Kobe Paras, he went to UP not because he wanted to chase the ghost left by his father and his friends. He entered this challenge for what the ride will bring.
“I’m not here to chase any ghost. I’m here to enjoy my life and create my own wave.”
Come Season 82, though, all eyes will be on these young men as they try to carry the Fighting Maroons to the next level.