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