UP Maroons ink 3rd sponsor, set to train in Serbia, Croatia
MANILA, Philippines – It has been a rags to riches story for the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons.
Far removed from their dark days languishing as a UAAP cellar-dweller, the rejigged Diliman-based squad just signed its 3rd sponsor NXLED and are set to train in Serbia from July 21 to August 4.
But head coach Bo Perasol still recognizes those dark days and makes sure that his boys do too.
"I have to make sure they understand that this was not the norm before," said in the incoming 3rd-year tactician after the sponsor’s contract signing.
“The farthest we went before was Baguio. The people who came in late like Ricci [Rivero], they’re used to this. Pero yung mga talagang 5th year na, sina Diego Dario, sina Gelo [Vito], this is the first time they experienced this including our Las Vegas trip last year." (“But for the fifth years like Diego Dario and Gelo Vito, this is the first time they experienced this including our Las Vegas trip last year.”)
"It’s important that they feel the support, but at the same time, they feel the pressure," he emphasized.
And the Maroons will have no shortage of pressure as they are set to face powerhouse professional clubs from Nova Sad, Serbia and Zagreb, Croatia, with the intention of blowing UP out of the water.
"They just said that we’d be blown out by 50 points, but that’s okay, for as long as the competition is very good," said Perasol with a smile.
"We try to execute what we practice in a harsh condition, and that harsh condition is a very strong team. They understand that whether they win or they lose, it doesn’t matter for as long as they can compete with these teams."
With Gilas cadet Rivero still held back under residency rules, the Maroons will be bannered by his fellow cadets Paul Desiderio, Juan Gomez de Liano and Will Gozum, along with veterans now playing in the PBA D-League like Javi Gomez de Liano and Jerson Prado.
Desiderio is currently suiting up for the Go for Gold Scratchers with his high school friend and college rival Ron Dennison while Javi GDL and Prado recently just left the Marinerong Pilipino-TIP Engineers.
"I released them to different D-League teams because I wanted them to experience playing [more]," said the mild-mannered Perasol. "I’m happy for Paul, Javi and Jerson, they’re playing well. I know that by doing this, they could bring that confidence back to the team."
But despite all these training sessions, including a quarterfinal finish in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup, Perasol is not yet content with the results until they have returned from their Europe tour.
"I think right now, we’re in about 60% [ready]," he said. "So we need to go into the 90s after that [Europe tour]. At least, we have one month more to go before the [UAAP] opening after the Serbian training camp."
With the sponsors and training camps in the bag for the Final 4-gunning Maroons, there is really nowhere to go but up. It’s no longer just a goal nor a catchy hashtag. It’s practically everyone’s expectations at this point. – Rappler.com