Watch out for UP in Sea­son 82

This early, pun­dits say that with Rivero around, cou­pled with Kobe Paras’ re­turn to the Ma­roons, that would make UP a more se­ri­ous ti­tle con­tender in Sea­son 82.

Sun.Star Cebu - - PRIME SPORTS - AL S. MEN­DOZA [email protected]­hoo.com

Still the talk of the town is Ate­neo’s swamp­ing of Uni­ver­sity of the Philip­pines this week.

But from any an­gle you want to see it, the Blue Ea­gles sweep­ing the Fight­ing Ma­roons in the best-of-three UAAP Fi­nals wasn’t a sur­prise at all.

One, Ate­neo was seeded first in pre-tour­na­ment pre­dic­tions.

Two, UP wasn’t even given a Chi­na­man’s chance to en­ter the cham­pi­onship show­down.

As pre­dicted, Ate­neo topped the two-round elim­i­na­tions with nary a sweat dropped.

Ate­neo’s an­tic­i­pated clash with La Salle did not ma­te­ri­al­ize this year be­cause the Archers were sim­ply too in­fe­rior, hav­ing a line-up lack­ing in both punch and ceil­ing.

La Salle lost its top slot­man, the 6-foot-8 Ben Mbala, to a pro­fes­sional league in Mex­ico, and then Ricci Rivero, Taft’s for­mer high-pro­file gun­ner, left af­ter a spat with school of­fi­cials.

Re­ports said Rivero re­sented of­fi­cials’ move to ban him from en­dors­ing prod­ucts, forc­ing him to quit and even­tu­ally land­ing on the UP ros­ter.

Thus, it would re­ally be in­ter­est­ing when Rivero fi­nally suits up as a rookie Ma­roon next year af­ter com­plet­ing his one-year res­i­dency sta­tus.

This early, pun­dits say that with Rivero around, cou­pled with Kobe Paras’ re­turn to the Ma­roons, that would make UP a more se­ri­ous ti­tle con­tender in Sea­son 82.

The duo would be a for­mi­da­ble re­place­ment to the grad­u­at­ing Paul Desiderio, the UP cap­tain who had glo­ri­ously brought the Ma­roons to the Fi­nals with his ster­ling lead­er­ship and gutsy plays.

The Ma­roons bowed to the Ea­gles, yes, but Desiderio’s mis­sion for UP had been com­pletely ac­com­plished af­ter Paul al­most sin­gle-hand­edly pow­ered his team past Adam­son in the Fi­nal 4 skir­mishes.

As his­tory beck­oned, Desiderio mar­shalled UP’s al­most im­pos­si­ble task of beat­ing Adam­son two in a row to oblit­er­ate the Fal­cons’ lofty twiceto-beat in­cen­tive.

With that done, Desiderio made Bo Pera­sol sur­pass his mod­est dream of pi­lot­ing the Ma­roons to the Fi­nal 4 semi­fi­nals.

The ti­tle show­down there­fore with Ate­neo was just a bonus for UP. But what a bonus it was, as it ended UP’s 32 years of a ti­tle-clash drought.

I can’t wait to see Sea­son 82 come along.

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