MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since 2014, a bonfire was lit up in UP Diliman to honor the Fighting Maroons men’s basketball team.
This time, however, it is no longer a celebration of a one-win season to end a years-long losing streak, but rather, a party to herald the return of the UAAP title after a three-decade search.
Despite having less than 24 hours to prepare since winning the championship in an all-time cardiac fashion over the Ateneo dynasty, the school and the team’s handlers delivered for their fans with a simple “street party” at the UP Baseball Field near the College of Human Kinetics gym.
Thousands flocked to the see the Fighting Maroons celebrate their well-deserved championship in what was the largest mass gathering inside the campus since the pandemic started two years ago.
UAAP | LOOK:— Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) May 14, 2022
Fans continue to flock to the open grounds behind the UP College of Human Kinetics as the Fighting Maroons are set to celebrate their historic UAAP basketball title with a long-awaited bonfire!#UAAPFinals #UAAPSeason84 pic.twitter.com/rBNIJhBYy5
There were free-flowing drinks and food for everyone, and various famous alumni like Senator Kiko Pangilinan and music industry legend Noel Cabangon graced the festivities.
Not even a rainshower stopped the arrival of the upbeat Fighting Maroons, who were welcomed with the timeless victory song, “We Are the Champions” by Queen.
From finals heroes JD Cagulangan and CJ Cansino, to Finals MVP Malick Diouf, to Mythical Five members Zavier Lucero and Carl Tamayo, and finally to graduating players Ricci Rivero and Noah Webb, everyone got a chance to profess their love for the UP community, and be showered with love back.
By the end of the program, the dark night sky was finally disturbed by a blazing fire, signifying the end of a long, exhausting, and oftentimes heartbreaking wait to once again reach the top of the UAAP basketball world.