Just the beginning
DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2018 - 12:00am

Something really wonderful happened with the UP Maroons ending up in a championship game to the surprise of many. The team got this far because they worked hard, specially over the last two years.

The UP Maroons may have failed to win the championship this year, but they accomplished something few thought possible: uniting the UP community, including the alumni.

Here is how Paul Desiderio, the team captain puts it in his Facebook post:

“Marami tayong pagsubok. Aminin man natin o hindi, lagi tayo dating inaasar ng ibang school tungkol sa basketball. I used to sit on the bench and watch my season go by winless. Loss after loss.

“Pero nangangarap pa rin ako noon na sa last game ko sa UP, mapupuno yung venue ng maroon. Ngayong araw, natupad na rin pangarap ko. Wala akong hinihingi pang iba sa pagtatapos ng college basketball career ko.

“My biggest trophy was not the championship, it was seeing this community as one. It’s not 16 strong anymore, it’s the whole community strong. #UPStrong.”

Renan Dalisay, the founder of Nowhere to go but UP told ANCX how the team was “playing hungry, literally.” The eternally cash-strapped UP had difficulties “providing the players with meals, lodging, proper equipment, and adequate facilities––in short, the basics needed to have a successful athletics program and the resources required to build a contender.”

Dalisay recalled that he asked himself if it would be wise to dare to dream––dream of Maroons’ games filled to the rafters with UP students and alumni, dream of a competitive squad that would one day end the university’s decades-long title drought.

“Last Wednesday, as the final buzzer sounded in the Maroons’ last game this season, I got my answer. Instead of a half-empty arena, I saw and heard a sea of maroon thunderously cheering for a team that had defied the odds to bring UP to the UAAP men’s basketball finals for the first time in 32 long years.

“It was a sight to behold. If the scoreboard did not display the game’s score, one would never have guessed that the UP Maroons had not won the championship that day. If there was disappointment on the part of the UP faithful that skipped work and classes to watch the game, I could not see it, much less hear it.

“All I saw were UP alumni and students who were bursting with pride, volunteers who had worked so hard expecting nothing in return, and fratmen who had set aside their rivalries for a common cause––a UP community united by 16 individuals and their coaching staff who displayed the best of what UP stands for: giting at tapang, honor and excellence.

“For those of us who were there when Nowhere to go but UP (NTGBU) was but a social media hashtag and not the foundation it is now, there are no words to describe how it feels to see UP––and, to a certain extent, the entire country––embrace the team…”

I am afraid there may be a tendency for the UP community to relax. But the work has just begun. We should sustain the good things we have done for the next season.

We have to invest on a championship calibre team. Over the past two years, the bulk of the funding for training was provided by an alumnus of Ateneo who had no links whatsoever with UP.

I am not sure if he is still willing to continue funding the next round of foreign training. Willing or not, it is time for UP Alumni who have done extremely well capitalizing on their UP education to step up and help. Nakakahiya na kasi!

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few led by the country’s second richest man: Manny Villar. Manny and his wife, Senator Cynthia were my batchmates at UP. Manny was even in my ROTC platoon.

Then there is Reghis Romero and Bobby del Rosario, both UP Business Administration alumni like Manny and Cynthia. Reghis has earned his billions in a number of businesses, including property and port services. Bobby is the owner of Fisher Mall and he made his billions in fishing and other businesses.

Then there is Sid Consunji of construction and property giant DMCI, a UP Engineering graduate. Also from UP Engineering is Henry Lim Bon Liong of Dona Maria hybrid rice and Sterling Paper.

There are prominent lawyers, too, from UP who made it big and can help: Boy Reyno, the Villaraza law firm partners, and ACCRA.

Each of them are more than equal to the financial resources of JJ Atencio, the Ateneo alumnus who didn’t hesitate to help the UP Maroons when they had nothing but spirit, guts, and a lot of potential talent.

The team should continue to have foreign training because that surely helped them a lot in this season. Even the Ateneo team has foreign exposure.

Perhaps we can convince Manny Villar to finance the next round of training for the Maroons. There is so much goodwill already there that will help his diverse businesses nationwide.

The one alumna who had been there since 2010 is Robina Gokongwei-Pe from the UP School of Economics. Robina made sure Robinsons Retail was there for the Maroons at a time when no one else was.

Another UP Econ graduate who made it big is the quiet and low key Doy Vea, founder and original owner of Smart telecom. His boss, MVP is active in supporting basketball. He should too.

 And while we are at it, other athletes also need support. Our track and field team won the UAAP championship this year and they were hardly noticed or acknowledged. We have a good volleyball team and our UP Pep squad used to be champions in cheerleading.

So now UP is not just about intellectual pursuits… it is about total development… mens sana in corpore sano, a Latin phrase, usually translated as “a healthy mind in a healthy body.”

Here is hoping for greater things ahead for all the UP athletes. Next year, we have championships to win!

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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