MANILA, Philippines – Staying true to their school’s reputation, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons have become synonymous with rallying in UAAP Season 82.
For the second time this season, last year’s finalists overcame a double-digit deficit against the Adamson Soaring Falcons to escape with a heart-stopping 81-77 win.
Finally living up to the preseason hype, the talented group of Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero, Bright Akhuetie, Juan Gomez de Liano, and Jun Manzo worked hand-in-hand to steal the win from the reeling Falcons in stunning fashion.
However, this came as no surprise for Paras, as he revealed that they have been battle-hardened for these kinds of situations during their overseas trips. (READ: Next Desiderio? No, Kobe Paras to lead UP his own way)
"If you guys watched our off-season, we went to Taipei, I think that’s where we got our, you know, how we play to fight back," he said after leading the win with 21 points. "Every game we had in Taiwan, we had to fight back in the second half. That’s just how we are as a team," he said.
Surely enough, the repeated comebacks paid off as they swept the competition en route to winning the Buddha Light International Association (BLIA) Cup months before Season 82 tipped off.
"We’re the most exciting team in the UAAP, I’m not gonna lie," Paras continued. "We always come back and we always fight so I think that’s just how we are as a team. I just can’t wait for that day until we really click because that’s gonna be really scary."
Although his teammates can easily pick up the slack with or without him on the court, Paras knows that he still shouldn’t slack off as UP continues its push back to the finals.
"I gotta do what I do best, lead by example. It doesn’t matter if you’re down," he said.
"The game ends when the final buzzer sounds so it doesn’t matter what happens. Just keep fighting because you never knows what happens next."
The Maroons still have a tough schedule ahead of them as they next face also-ran National University and catch-up contender La Salle before closing out the eliminations with a rematch against an undefeated Ateneo squad.
"We just gotta play hard. I mean to anyone who knows and understands basketball, you have to play hard from the start to finish, you can’t skip plays," Paras continued. "I’m just excited for the next game and our other games left in the second round." – Rappler.com