Al­most there

Business World - - WORLD SPORTS - MICHAEL AN­GELO S. MURILLO MICHAEL AN­GELO S. MURILLO has been a colum­nist since 2003. He is a Busi­nessWorld re­porter cov­er­ing the Sports beat. msmurillo@bworl­don­

And so an­other Univer­sity Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines (UAAP) sea­son passed by with the UP men’s bas­ket­ball team not be­ing part of the Fi­nal Four cast anew.

That makes it two decades since the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines last made it to the semi­fi­nals of the mar­quee UAAP tour­na­ment; quite a long drought in­deed.

But much like the end of last year, I am not go­ing to be down on our beloved Fight­ing Ma­roons, see­ing how they showed fur­ther im­prove­ment and left us sup­port­ers much to cheer about and have some­thing to look for­ward to.

Sea­son 80 had the Ma­roons just nar­rowly miss­ing the semi­fi­nals, fin­ish­ing at fifth place with a record of 6-8.

While the much- sought- for Fi­nal Four ap­pear­ance con­tin­ued to be elu­sive this year, still their as­cent of late in the UAAP was sus­tained.

From the win­less years of 2012 and 2013, UP has steadily climbed, win­ning, one, three and five in the years that fol­lowed.

In 2017, it was six, which could have eas­ily been higher had the breaks gone the team’s way in some close games.

And the great thing about it all, sup­port from the UP com­mu­nity was ever present through­out the Ma­roons’ cam­paign, a very much wel­come sight con­sid­er­ing there was a time in the past when the play­ers were play­ing in front of near empty venues.

This year you can see that the com­mu­nity was into it, not be­cause it was forced to do so but more be­cause it saw that change is hap­pen­ing and the “fight” is be­ing ex­em­pli­fied on the floor.

Of course, more work is def­i­nitely needed to fi­nally go over the hump, but if the re­cent de­vel­op­ments are any in­di­ca­tion, I am go­ing out on a limb and say we are al­most there.

Next year the team’s core led by Paul Deside­rio, Jun Manzo, Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano and Noah Webb will be back, and ex­pected to be joined by trans­feree Bright Akhuetie, it is some­thing that I am re­ally high on and I would not be sur­prised if UP fi­nally breaks through into the top four.

Un­til then, con­grat­u­la­tions are due to Coach Bo Pera­sol and his staff for steer­ing the team to an­other re­spectable cam­paign. May the solid bid the team had in Sea­son 80 con­tinue to in­spire them to bet­ter them­selves and make the in­sti­tu­tion we all love proud.

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