“The greatest decision we made was getting coach Bo.”
This was the sentiment shared by the team officials of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, according to assistant team manager Mel Macasaquit.
Going into his first year with the UP Fighting Maroons, Perasol kept the goals low for the team: win more than three games — the total number of games the team had won a season ago. But after notching their third win of the season last October 12 in a win against the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, the Fighting Maroons dropped close games to the league-leading De La Salle University Green Archers and defending UAAP champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
With those losses, doubt started to creep in Perasol’s head.
“We’ve been praying really hard. Ang sabi namin, ‘kailan pa ba naman kami lalampas doon sa tatlong panalo?’”
Wednesday evening, win number four finally happened as the UP Fighting Maroons were able to buck a slow start to send the National University Bulldogs to their sixth straight loss. And once more, another UP curse was broken.
After defeating the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the first time in seven years, the cagers from Diliman have finally overcome a coach Eric Altamirano-mentored Bulldogs team. Moreover, the Iskos have won four games for the first time since the 69th season of the league.
And with the win, the Fighting Maroons are just a game behind a Final Four spot – an unfamiliar territory for UP’s men basketball team.
“Kailan pa [ba huling Final Four], tatlong dekada na ata? At least man lang may chance kami, and for that alone, we’re proud,” shared Perasol, a former Fighting Maroon himself. “Jett [Manuel] here, alam niyong ga-graduate na rin siya. So alam niya na at least sa huling pagkakataon, meron siyang tsansa. And I don’t think we’re going to relinquish that chance.”
“We’re going to fight for that chance. We’re not going to just fall back. We’re going to embrace that opportunity.”
With just two games remaining in their slate, the UP alumnus is still taking it one game at a time.
“A lot of these things are not in our hands anymore because if Adamson will win lots of games, and Ateneo, then the cast will be complete,” he added.
“But we have to make sure. We have to be ready against UST first and then UE.”
But even given the situation the team is in right now, Perasol is just relieved to deliver on his promise.
“I can’t be a chooser, as I said. Because just getting this fourth win, we’re tremendously happy for this.”