Finally breaking their respective Final Four appearance droughts, the UP men’s and women’s volleyball teams successfully brought Diliman back to relevance in the sport this season.
Built around a mix of reliable veterans and super rookies, the Lady Maroons returned to the semifinals after 12 years while their men’s counterpart snapped their own struggle after 6 years – a development some of the UP senior basketball squad members wanted to emulate.
The Fighting Maroons basketball last entered the semifinals in 1997, a 19-year gap already.
“Nai-inspire kami, gusto rin namin pumasok sa Final Four, sana makuha namin,” said Paul Desiderio, challenged to post more than the 3 wins they put up last year.
Although the Lady Maroons failed to measure up against defending champion Ateneo, Desiderio has seen enough of their UP volleyball teams’ dedication to motivate him in getting positive results when their turn is up to play in the court.
“Yung hardwork nila iba. Lahat buhos talaga sila, gusto rin naming magaya yung attitude nila as a player,” said Desiderio, moments after witnessing the Lady Maroons fall at the hands of the Lady Eagles on Saturday.
For up-and-coming playmaker Diego Dario, meanwhile, the UP spikers’ Final Four feat was a telling sign that the future of sports is on the right track now in the State University.
“It’s good to see na gumaganda na yung program ng UP, nakikita na natin yung hardwork na pinagdaanan ng UP, not just basketball but the whole sports program,” said Dario. “Hopefully, sa ibang sports also, makita at ma-notice na rin ng tao yung hardwork na ginagawa namin.”
Set to join in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup this month, the Fighting Maroons are still awaiting their management’s decision on who will be their head coach, although Bo Perasol is rumored to be the top choice on the position vacated by Rensy Bajar.
“Naghihintay pa rin kami ng bagong coach namin,” shared Desiderio. “Sana maganda yung kalabasan.” — By Jason Mercene