UP Maroons thankful for fan support amid Perasol suspension
MANILA, Philippines – Ricky Dandan's temporary return at the helm of the UP Fighting Maroons has been off to a rocky start after a heartbreaking 79-82 overtime loss at the hands of the FEU Tamaraws last Sunday, October 6.
On the back of the team's top scorer and UAAP Season 82 Mythical Five candidate Kobe Paras, the Maroons engineered a 16-point comeback in the 4th quarter but ultimately still fell short in overtime to the seasoned Tamaraws.
Regardless of the result, Dandan was just pleased with the team's effort and the continued fan support as head coach Bo Perasol's controversial three-game suspension kicked in.
"That's tremendous. Fan support is tremendous," said Dandan, the former UP head coach serving as an assistant to Perasol.
"Of course, out there that's quite normal and everybody's used to that, but the fan support is really tremendous."
Although Perasol is not allowed to be in game venues with the team until October 20, his presence was still strongly felt inside the Mall of Asia Arena as hundreds of fans waved photo cutouts of his face throughout the FEU game.
Players, meanwhile, wore warm-up shirts bearing "We BO-lieve" as a tribute to their leader.
Paras also heaped praise on UP fans and credited them for giving the team an emotional advantage.
"Win or lose, the UP community is always there for us," said Paras. "I'm very, very grateful for them. They're probably the most loyal fan base in the UAAP."
"It doesn't matter whom you go up against. It's like a home court advantage every game, so I'm just blessed to be a part of UP and I'm just really happy to play for the fans and the whole UP community."
Reigning MVP Bright Akhuetie lamented the loss, but otherwise remained positive for their next games.
"We wanted to get it for coach Bo, but you know how it is," he said. "We didn't do a good job defensively. But we still Bo-lieve."
"The whole team still Bo-lieves. Exactly," chimed in veteran forward Noah Webb. "It only makes us hungrier to get it for coach Bo next time."
As Dandan stays in the driver's seat for the next two games, he remains confident that UP can adjust amid adversity like it did against FEU.
"That's what I'm proud of them [of]. That's their potential that showed," he said. "We were down what, 16 or 17 points, and they made a run, made a game out of it."
"They could have just easily given up. They could have easily done that, but no. They chose to fight and make a game out of it."
UP now looks to snap a two-game losing skid as it faces the streaking UE Red Warriors on Saturday, October 12. – Rappler.com