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From ‘Pa-pogi’ to Finals: UP lifer Ricky Dandan proud to see program flourish

Coach Ricky Dandan himself has seen the horrors that the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons’ basketball program went through: winless seasons, blowout games, missed chances, and all the rest.

But that didn’t stop him from believing that one day, all the pain that he and the program have endured would be worth it.

And it was.

Dandan and the rest of the UP community were jubilant on Wednesday night. The Fighting Maroons had downed the Adamson University Soaring Falcons in overtime, 89-87, to book their first UAAP Finals appearance in 32 long years.

UAAP-81-Final-Four-ADU-vs.-UP-Bo-Perasol-0357 From 'Pa-pogi' to Finals: UP lifer Ricky Dandan proud to see program flourish Basketball News UAAP UP  - philippine sports news

“This is what we wanted to achieve. And I’m happy that we were able to achieve where we are right now,” said Dandan, who served as UP’s head coach from 2011 to 2013, but made his way back when Bo Perasol took over the program.

“It’s been thirty-two years, so I’m really very happy about it.”

Many are calling the Fighting Maroons’ trip to the Finals an ‘over-achievement’, since they were facing a heavily-favored Adamson armed with a twice-to-beat advantage.

Things even looked bleak for UP at one point this Season 81. They had a 3-4 record after absorbing a 72-86 blowout loss at the hands of the UST Growling Tigers.

But for the seasoned Dandan, that humiliating loss – where Dandan called his players “pa-pogi” for the players’ apparent lack of effort – was actually the turning point for UP that led them to where they are right now.

Our learning curve was very deep. When Bo assembled this team and we talked about what our goals are, we knew very well that we had to hurdle a lot of obstacles. Because, you know, our players are not used to expectations.

“During the first round, we struggled, and then we had that blowout loss to UST. That was the start of our learning curve going up,” he said. “We needed to experience those things for us to learn – those things can’t be taught by anyone.

“You need to experience that,” added Dandan, who was once the head coach of the Columbian Dyip in the PBA. “After that, instead of unraveling, our guys just stuck together, believed in coach Bo.

“Here we are right now.”

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Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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