De­spite fi­nals loss, Ce­buano Desiderio still got the last game he dreamed of

Cebu Daily News - - SPORTS - by Jonas Rey N. Pane­rio COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Ce­buano wing­man Paul Desiderio may have not got­ten the cham­pi­onship that he wanted for the Uni­ver­sity of the Philip­pines (UP).

But out of the de­feat at the hands of the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Ate­neo de Manila Uni­ver­sity rose some­thing more im­por­tant than a shiny tro­phy: a school united in their sup­port for the Fight­ing Ma­roons.

And as the Liloan na­tive played his very last game in a UP uni­form – an 81-99 loss to the Blue Ea­gles that dashed his hopes for a ti­tle – he shared that he may have got­ten more than he set out for.

“Nan­gan­garap pa rin ako noon na sa last game ko sa UP, ma­pupuno yung venue ng ma­roon. Ngay­ong araw, natu­pad narin pan­garap ko. Wala akong hini­hingi pang iba sa pag­tata- pos ng col­lege bas­ket­ball ca­reer ko. My big­gest tro­phy was not the cham­pi­onship, it was see­ing this com­mu­nity as one,” said the for­mer Ce­safi ju­niors MVP back in 2011 while he was still play­ing for the Uni­ver­sity of the Visayas Baby Lancers. (I dreamt that in my last game with UP, the venue would be filled. To­day, that dream be­came a re­al­ity. I’m not wish­ing for any­thing else at the end of my col­lege bas­ket­ball ca­reer.)

As the cur­tain closes on his leg­endary ca­reer, the 23-year-old rem­i­nisced on his early days in Dil­i­man when the Ma­roons were mere laugh­ing­stocks of the UAAP.

“Marami tay­ong pag­subok. Aminin man natin o hindi, lagi tayo dat­ing in­aasar ng ibang school tungkol sa bas­ket­ball. I used to sit on the bench and watch my sea­son go by win­less. Loss af­ter loss,” shared Desiderio.

But with Desiderio at the fore­front of a Ma­roon re­nais­sance, UP rose to promi­nence and is ex­pected to con­tend for the ti­tle in the years to come with the ar­rival of Gi­las Cadet mem­bers Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras.

Desiderio is sure that the team will no longer be along in their jour­ney.

“It’s not 16 strong any­more, it’s the whole com­mu­nity strong,” he said.

Desiderio con­firmed that he was in­deed go­ing to ap­ply for the up­com­ing PBA Draft but had yet to do so as of this writ­ing. The dead­line for ap­pli­ca­tion is on De­cem­ber 10.

With classes set to end next week, Desiderio also bared that he will be com­ing back home to Cebu for a brief va­ca­tion be­fore he dives into the next stage of his ca­reer.

My big­gest tro­phy was not the cham­pi­onship, it was see­ing this com­mu­nity as one

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