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Preseason prep key to UP gaining second seed, says backer

University of the Philippines has put itself back in a good position to return to the championship round of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament for the second straight season.

And the outpouring of joy from the entire community is clear.

It isn’t just because the Fighting Maroons feel they’ve already accomplished something big. Nor is it because they’re content with making another run for a possible return to the Finals.

For UP head coach Bo Perasol and the rest of the squad, they felt the early struggles of the team. But they were able to let it out once they saw themselves contending for a potential championship round return via the step ladder phase of the tournament.

“This is the product of the program that we built three years ago, and we’re now reaping the fruits of it,” Perasol said. “But the reason why we were so happy to make it to the stepladder was the fact that we were able to do it despite the struggles we had early in the season.

“It was not easy.”

The entry of young, talented players like Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero certainly made UP stacked with talent, but it then became more challenging for Perasol and his troops.

UAAP82-MBB-25TH-PHOTO-UP-KOBE-PARAS Preseason prep key to UP gaining second seed, says backer Basketball News UAAP UP  - philippine sports news

“My job here is not just to coach the team, but to manage them,” added Perasol. “Alam mo naman sa basketball, hindi puwedeng maraming bida. So the challenge for me is paano ko ima-manage ‘yung mga bida to play as one.

“Andyan si Kobe, andyan si Ricci, andyan pa si Bright (Akhuetie) and andyan rin si Juan (Gomez de Liano). So it was really a struggle for us, yet we were able to reach this far kaya I can understand the emotions.”

UP ended with the second-best record in the UAAP by the end of the double round eliminations. They carry a twice-to-beat advantage over University of Santo Tomas, who beat the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday to advance to the next stage in the stepladder Final Four.

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For JJ Atencio and Edrin Panganiban of STATS — UP’s staunch supporter over the past three seasons — seeing the Fighting Maroons securing the No. 2 spot summed up the successful partnership between their apparel brand and the up-and-coming collegiate squad determined to go all the way.

“I think the plan of putting up a solid team and equipping them in preparation for the UAAP season summed it up best.

“The training that we had outside of the country had certainly made them ready for the big battles ahead in the UAAP. UP and our brand, STATS, have grown together and we’ve become a wining combination – UP as an up and coming team and STATS as a go-to apparel,” said Atencio, chairman of STATS and Januarius Holdings.

Panganiban added that the relationship they established with the Fighting Maroons has inspired them to come up with better innovations when it comes to apparel. STATS is an  athleisure brand now making an impact in the sports and leisure industry.

“We were inspired by their journey, and we hope for their continuous success,” added Panganiban.

“We would like to see them to succeed in the same way that we wanted to grow and become the go-to destination when it comes to sports and leisure brands.”

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