Desiderio gets last laugh on good friend Dennison: 'Ako naman yung Dennison stopper'
MANILA, Philippines -The score was 56-all with 12 seconds left. For so often for so long, close games for the UP Fighting Maroons have ended in crushing heartbreak. Once again, this time against the FEU Tamaraws, the Maroons found themselves in a familiar situation.
UP had already prevailed once before in this situation earlier this season. The words “Atin ‘to” (“This is ours”) rang throughout social media like how Paul Desiderio’s voice rang out during that fateful huddle against UST.
So when the Maroons were huddled once again for the last time with another game hanging in the balance, it was now the crowd behind them echoing those iconic words amid nervous clapping: “Atin ‘to! Atin ‘to! Atin ‘to!”
For UP, the difference between tying for 4th place and staying at 6th this late into the season could be made with one last bucket.
Sure enough, the ball ended up in Desiderio’s hands. Never mind that at that point, he was shooting 5/22 with 1/9 threes. For the last possession and possibly for the last time in college, the King Maroon met face-to-face with the graduating King Tamaraw, took two dribbles and stepped back for three with a hand right in his face.
Ron Dennison froze as Desiderio circled the court and passed the FEU bench. For the first time in 12 matches spanning 6 years, UP had defeated FEU, 59-56. As longtime commentator Boom Gonzales noted after the game, Dennison “couldn’t have defended it any better.”
Coincidentally, around the time the Maroons last defeated the Tamaraws back in 2011, a graduating Dennison and a rookie Desiderio won the CESAFI high school championship for the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers.
Fast forward to the present, their journey has come full circle with each man one-upping the other in separate occasions this season. In their first meeting where FEU routed UP, 78-59, Dennison shut down Desiderio so well that he made headlines as the “Desiderio stopper.” After tonight’s game, however, Desiderio had the perfect one-liner for his former captain:
“Ako naman yung Dennison stopper,” declared the King Maroon. (“I am now the Dennison stopper.”)
“Yung mindset ko kasi, last matchup na rin namain ni Dennison kasi graduating na siya,” he added. “Iniisip ko, kailangan ko siyang bawian. Parati na lang akong dehado sa kanya eh.” (My mindset was that it was my last matchup with Dennison because he’s graduating. I thought I had to get even with him since I’m always getting one-upped.”)
To his credit, he did stop FEU’s unlikely leading scorer, as the defense-first Dennison recorded only 9 points on 4/13 shooting with 6 turnovers in 30 minutes. Desiderio’s statline – 15 points on 6/23 (26%) shooting with 2/10 (20%) threes – was no better by any means, and thus became the butt of Coach Bo Perasol’s jokes.
“Siya lang tumitira ng [5/22] na may kumpiyansa pa,” said a jeering Perasol. “5/22 and yet ginawa niyang 6/23, so medyo may kakapalan talaga. But that was good.” (“He’s the only one who shoots 5/22 and still has confidence left. 5/22 and yet he made it 6/23, so there’s really a hint of brashness. But that was good.”)
On a more serious note, Perasol said that the last-second win was a huge morale boost for the Maroons, especially after getting stunned by 7th-seeded UE last time with a 73-64 upset.
“Sabi ko nga yung mga struggles namin, these are just things that we need to undergo in order for us to grow,” said the veteran coach. “Minsan masakit at nag-aaway-away kami but the important thing is we have the same goal in mind and that’s to uplift our program.” (“I said in regard to our struggles, these are just things that we need to undergo in order for us to grow. Sometimes it hurts and we fight over it but the important thing is we have the same goal in mind and that’s to uplift our program.”)
Whether they make the Final Four or not, however, the Fighting Maroons under Bo Perasol have already done enough to uplift the program, because this win marks Perasol’s 10th in 25 total games. In comparison, according to chief statistician Pong Ducanes, the Maroons took 98 games over 7 years to reach 10 wins, ending with a 10-88 record before Perasol came on deck.
But of course, they won’t rest at 10 wins if they can help it. That’s simply not following the standards of #nowheretogobutUP. – Rappler.com