It’s been seven years since Mark Tuballas first stepped foot on a UAAP diamond.
But on Sunday, he felt like a rookie again.
Tuballas, 23, had the chance to forgo his final year with University of the Philippines after getting his degree in 2021.
The native of Northern Samar, however, did not feel satisfied with how his UAAP career went by.
After all, the Fighting Maroons only accumulated a 5-34 record.
“Bitin kasi sa akin yung four years, kasi wala pa kaming napakita talaga. Tapos gumanda pa yung suporta sa UP baseball,” shared Tuballas.
“So sabi ko, one last dance para sa UP. Malay natin, maka-champion kami ngayon, so we’ll see.”
UP has a loaded squad for this season, headlined by rookies from baseball hotbed Tanauan, Batangas.
And the UP depth showed to open UAAP Season 85 as the Fighting Maroons defeated De La Salle University with a score of 11-7.
It was the first time UP had beaten La Salle in Tuballas’ stay in Diliman.
“Alam ko sa team ko na kaya namin pero siyempre iba pa rin kung UAAP na. At sobrang laki ng jump namin kasi champion team yung natalo namin,” said Tuballas, who went 2-of-5 at-bat with a double and a triple that led to an RBI.
“Sa apat na taon na naglalaro ako sa UAAP, hindi namin tinalo yung La Salle tapos lagi kami tinatambakan. Kaya sobrang laking panalo ito para sa amin.”
Unlike in past seasons, Tuballas is no longer the junior. Now, he is the “kuya.”
And he has started to embrace that role.
“Buti nakikinig sila sa akin kasi naging coach din nila ako. Tatlo yung role ko dito sa team — captain, kuya, at coach. So medyo mabigat itong responsibility na ito pero kinakaya naman,” he shared.
UP is currently in a 19-year title drought.
Though Tuballas does not know whether this team could end it, what he is sure of is that he won’t have any regrets.
“Wala, sabi ko pag naglaro ako kailangan ko galing. Worth it na bumalik ako whatever happens, manalo o matalo. Hindi ko pagsisisihan ito.”