MANILA, Philippines – As University of the Philippines (UP) moves a step closer to its UAAP Final Four dream, five-year veteran Paul Desiderio thinks there's one key person to credit for turning the Maroons' program around.
Desiderio said Bo Perasol impressively worked his coaching magic on the Maroons, who clinched their seventh win of the season – the best record in 14 years of their long-suffering basketball program.
"Masaya kasi yung winning culture nandoon na. Sana magtuloy-tuloy na ito," said Desiderio.
(It's great that we now have a winning culture. I hope this continues.)
The Fighting Maroons – whose lone championship came in 1986 behind legends Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc – last made it to the Final Four in 1997.
"Sobrang blessed kami na dumating si coach Bo kasi binago niya talaga yung program ng basketball sa UP," Desiderio said of Perasol, who resigned as Ateneo head coach in 2016 before making the jump to his alma mater.
"Sobrang blessed kami na dumating siya kasi lahat ng kailangan ng team, hinahanapan niya ng paraan."
(We're so blessed that coach Bo came to UP because he changed the basketball program. We're so blessed that he came because anything the team needed, he found a way for us to get it.)
During Desiderio's rookie year, UP finished with an embarrassing 0-14 slate. It has been a tough journey since, so the former national youth team member now wants to finish strong in his final year.
"Noong una, pressured ako noong first round pero iniisip ko na lang para kay coach Bo ito lahat. Kumbaga, gift ko na sa kaniya ito at sa community itong last year ko," said Desiderio.
(I felt pressured during the first round, but I just kept thinking that we're doing this for coach Bo. It's like my gift for him and the UP community in my final year.) – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.